I mentioned on this blog the other day that our friend Gary Lauder’s mother Evelyn Lauder passed away last Saturday. In keeping with the Jewish tradition, the funeral happened quickly – in this case Monday morning. As much as I wished I could be there (New York) it was not logistically feasible for me to go. I wasn’t worried so much about disappointing Gary and Laura, I believed that they would understand and I was heartened to know that there would be many many loved ones there to support them. But nonetheless I felt badly about not going. I sent a condolence note Sunday night and when I woke up Monday there was an email from Laura saying that the service would be webcasted. I immediately logged on and lo and behold on my screen was the beautiful Central Synagogue sanctuary. There was 30 minutes until the starting time and it was already filling up.
I watched and heard the introductory music then Gary’s brother William and his children spoke. I then switched to the dial-in as it had better audio and I found it easier to concentrate.
I knew from meeting her that Evelyn was an extraordinary person and had a tremendous impact on the world. But my brief encounters with her were much more prosaic – I met the ebullient, loving, beaming Jewish grandmother, “kvelling” at her grandchildren’s events. I loved learning more about her – the funny familial stories, her impact on breast cancer research and her incredible personal support for patients and especially the “career woman” and wedding planning stories. I felt transported to the set of “Mad Men” listening to Leonard’s description of Evelyn and their office in the late 50’s. But most importantly to me I was able to hear Gary, Laura, Josh and Eliana’s poignant remarks. I am so glad that in the future of our friendship when Evelyn and even this service comes up, even though I wasn’t there in person, I will be able to remember and understand what happened at this event. Who would ever have imagined technology helping us in this way.