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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 16, 2011 / 12 Iyar, 5771

Homeless vet goes home the right way

By Mitch Albom






http://www.JewishWorldReview.com |
John Hannah slept many nights on a floor of a homeless shelter. Now, for his final sleep, he lay inside a metal casket, his thin body draped in a blue suit, his graying hair, once scraggly and long, now groomed and combed back.

"At peace," someone observed.

At last.

Until seven days ago, Hannah had been a man unclaimed, a body dead from cancer in a Detroit hospital, no next of kin listed, no one to collect his remains. His corpse was in danger of callous disposal, until a man named Joseph Norris stepped in and said, "I will take him." Norris owns the Gates of Heaven Funeral Home on Livernois in Detroit. It's not the best neighborhood. He must keep his doors locked. But Norris maintains a pleasant, welcoming operation, and he welcomed the body of a stranger.

His reward was the expense of keeping that body -- potentially for weeks. If he cremated the remains before family came forth, a lawsuit would be likely.

So Norris waited. And others tried to help. Last week, in this space, a call was sounded for anyone who knew John Hannah, or wanted to say good-bye. All we had was a birthday, four digits from a Social Security number and his final ranking in the Navy.

It proved to be enough. Early on the morning the column came out, the phone began ringing at the funeral home. And here, four days later, a family gathered in the chapel to pay respects -- two brothers, two sisters-in-law, a nephew and a daughter of John Hannah, 55.

After 15 years of searching, they finally had found him, even as they had lost him.

A MAN WHO DIDN'T TALK ABOUT HIS PAST

"It's a mixture of emotions," said Ernie Hannah, one of five siblings. "When I saw him, of course, I was upset because he died. There's a lot of baggage there. But this does give us closure."

John Hannah, it turns out, spent 20 years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged. He had a pension. He had insurance.

You'd never have known it. In his final year, he was a coughing, sickly, homeless man who arrived at Detroit's I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries and announced he had come to die.

Night after night he slept on a vinyl mat under a gray blanket. Nobody knew the memories he kept tucked there as well. Memories of a wife who left him when the kids were young. Memories of his battles with alcohol. Memories of the last time he saw his daughters -- two children he never spoke about.

"It was a father-daughter Girl Scout dance," Ernie recalled. "We weren't sure if he was going to show up, because he'd been disappearing off and on. I was ready to take Erin" -- his younger daughter, who was 10 at the time -- "just in case. "But a half-hour before it started, John showed up, all dressed and ready."

He took his little girl to the dance.

That was the last time they saw him.

Who knows what goes on inside a man? Who knows why John Hannah hit the skids, why he never again -- in 15 years -- tried to contact his family? Hannah was well-liked by the other homeless men he shared space with. They described him as an intelligent man, who walked to a Wayne State library every day.

"It turns out he was blogging," said Valerie Hannah, Ernie's wife. "He'd been posting things for years. He had all kinds of people who knew him. Pages and pages."

Yet not an email or letter to his loved ones. Perhaps he was ashamed. Perhaps he was heartbroken. Whatever the reason, Hannah disengaged from what life had given him, even its benefits. He died alone.

I wrote last week that John Hannah was about to die a second death, the death of being forgotten. But it turns out he was not forgotten, he was simply never found.

Thanks to the kindness of strangers -- Norris at the funeral home, Annette Covington from the church, Tyrone Chatman from the Michigan Veterans Foundation and countless readers who offered money, support, even burial plots -- Hannah was sent off properly, with singing, prayers and a family crying around his casket.

No man should live alone. No man should die alone. Hannah's ashes will be buried at sea, a request he once made to his brothers. "Closure" is what they call that, but this says it better: at peace, at last.


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