Uncle Alan-A Life Remembered

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I walked past a number of funeral pyres at Pashupatinath and stopped and stood to the side of one in which I saw a body being cremated.  I gazed quite intently at the shroud being consumed by fire.  There seemed to be nothing else in the world as my mind was focused only on the moment.

When I returned to my flat I found out, on Facebook, that my father’s youngest brother, Alan Rosenkranz, was no more at the age of 70, after an 11 year battle with cancer.  Alan had tried all kinds of drugs and therapies to try to rid himself of the cancer that would ultimately take away his body and his life. 

Alan was only 14 years older than me and as a youngster I idolized him. He lived in New York and was married to Rose, and was in a partnership with his father, my grandfather, in a manufacturing business, employing 75 people at its peak.  I don’t know if this was really what Alan wanted to do with his professional life, but he took it upon himself to grow the company.

When I was growing up, Alan would come to Los Angeles and teach me about rock n roll, which he loved, and take me to baseball games.  I would always bawl my head off when he left to return to his home in New York.  When I visited him as a teenager, I remember trying to copy his somewhat, what seemed to me, angry demeanor, just wanting to be more like him. I remember his home on Long Island, which always seemed pretty incredible and full of really cool stuff.  I was able to spend an entire summer with Alan and his family when I was in graduate school.  Alan always seemed very young to me, a child in a man’s body, but in a very good sense. 

I have a really strong memory of attending, with Alan, a Yankees-Angles doubleheader in the Bronx, when my family was visiting New York.  I must have been maybe 7 or 8 and the fans in right field were calling the name of Angels outfield Willie Smith to the point where he had to be moved to left. I remember returning that evening to my grandfather’s home and being in awe of a thunderstorm as I was trying to go to sleep, something I hadn’t experienced growing up in California. 

Two other episodes that stand out for me.  The first was when I first came east to attend graduate school and I went to Alan and Rose’s home to visit and buy some winter clothes.  They took me shopping for my very first down jacket, which I ended up wearing in October during a few snowflakes.  My friend Bill, who was from New York, was only wearing a vest and a shirt.  As he saw me approach he could only laugh at how bundled up I was.  The second episode dealt with Alan and Rose hosting an engagement, i.e. a getting to know one another, party.  It was very kind and I remember how happy Alan was. 

I don’t know whether Alan ever did anything extraordinary in his life, most people don’t, something to be remembered by the masses.  But he did lead quite an incredible life, at least what I know of it, from the time that he was an infant.  When Alan was only two months old his mother passed away and he was placed in a home for one year, until my grandfather found another wife to care for his young family.   My father and another uncle, who were also quite young at the time, were taken care of by friends, while my grandfather worked to support them all.  I never was able to speak with Alan about how this all might have impacted him, but I’m not sure that he really wanted to speak of it. 

Alan’s only son Howard posted the following on Facebook, “he remained just as active and anxious and energetic and optimistic and vain and kind and stubborn and humble until the very end and I'll miss all of those things that made him who he was for the rest of my life”. 

My feeling is that my cousin’s statement is what made Alan extraordinary for those that knew and loved him.  Alan went to great lengths to take care of himself, exercising regularly until his body could no longer handle this.  He worked trying to build a business, after his manufacturing business moved to Pennsylvania, failed, and was somewhat rebuilt on a smaller scale by Howard and Alan. He did have tremendous energy and although we drifted apart during later years, whenever I spoke with him, I could feel his strength and vibrancy, whether it be talking about sports or world issues or family.  He did love to talk to everyone, an extrovert.  I’m not sure that he totally understood me, but who really understands others, but I felt his appreciation and interest, as he seemed to soften his approach towards life.  As I recollect he did always live his life outloud!

One could also see his extraordinariness from the fact that he helped to raise a daughter Michelle, who is a strong woman in both her professional and personal life.  Alan and his wife Rose were fortunate to have five grandchildren. 

Alan has had a definite impact on my life, mainly because he showed so much interest in my formative years.  My love of music and sports, which Alan helped to nurture, are two things that remain important in my life,.  Alan led a complete life and although it was cut short, he will live on for generations, similar to the ashes that I watched flowing into the Bagmati and eventually into the Ganga. 



Position: Lover of Life-Change Agent

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