Christmas Eve will never be the same

(Submitted by Ellen Stein.)

My husband Dick and I met Kurt and Gloria, via our friendship with Hanni and Milton. We so enjoyed being with Kurt at Hanni's small dinner parties, where his warm greetings, great conversation, and heartfelt hugs, were memorable. He seemed to love sharing his Mount Sinai experiences, with Dick, who is on staff there. We both so enjoyed and looked forward to his company.

When I think of Kurt, another strong impression comes to mind. It is of his extraordinary devotion to his sister, Hanni. Their sibling bond was one of the most beautiful that I had ever seen. I smile as I remember his patience and his sense of humor that came to the fore, when they shared slightly different versions of their childhood experiences. The underlying deep affection and love, they had for each other, was palpable. To me, he was the brother that we all would have loved to have!

My favorite recollection of Kurt, however, is the following: Over many years, it had become a tradition for us to attend the very special Christmas Eve festivities, at Hanni's home. The highlight of the evenings would be when Kurt sat down at the piano and led us all in the singing of Christmas carols. He sang with us, as he played, and even reminisced by singing some of the German carols that he and Hanni knew in their youth. As recently as last year, although we were a far smaller group, we gathered round the piano and sang our hearts out to Kurt's accompaniment. It was a most special evening for all of us and it was the first time, in all those Christmas Eves, that Hanni actually sang out! (when we sang Silent Night). The poignancy of that image brings smiles, along with some tears, and my heart is heavy with the thought that Kurt will not be with us this year. But, he is often in my thoughts, and his presence will be with me every time I sing Christmas carols - for the rest of my life. I loved this dear man and I miss him.

Ellen Stein