I’m about to unfold a story that has a few main characters in my life that intertwined and provided a mentorship to me. The first scene takes place in the late ‘70’s when I was in my twenties and was welcomed to join the adults, and in this case the adults were about 30 years my senior. Oddly enough we were all contemporaries in business. We looked the same and dressed the same; such is the life among those in the “industry.”
About 20 years ago I attended the funeral of my longtime friend “Hank,” who introduced me to the main characters in this story. Hank was well known from “coast to coast” as was said back in the day, and the funeral service was “booked” at the 3,000 seat, Jackie Gleason Theatre at Hank Meyer Boulevard (naturally) in Miami Beach. Hank had brought Jackie Gleason to Miami to do his weekly TV broadcast live from “The sun and fun capital of the world, Miami Beach” the announcer bellowed each week to the National TV audience, back in the 70’s. The day before the funeral the family announced the funeral would instead be directly across the street from the “Jackie Gleason” at Temple Emanuel, Miami Beach’s largest synagogue but only half the seating size of the JG Theatre.
Zev, Charlie and I attended the funeral together and I noticed surprisingly that it was only filled to half capacity. Hank passed away at about 80 and he outlived many of his contemporaries. I commented to Zev and Charlie “ Hank out-kicked his coverage,” and if Hank had passed a decade earlier, the Jackie Gleason would have had standing room only, a complimentary term of endearment.
Five years ago Charlie Cinnamon passed at 95. I never until his funeral knew his actual age, a closely guarded secret for his boyish enthusiasm and America’s most celebrated “press agent,” and more importantly The Godfather to my oldest son Lee. A few months ago Zev Buffman passed at 89. Zev was the founder of the National Touring Broadway Across America shows as we know them today and the founding partner of the Miami Heat.
The three: Hank, Charlie and Zev along with my father Max were my mentors in life. They were Jewish and Zev was also Israeli. I never gave it thought until last week when walking through my house and viewing the living memento pictures of us all at countless joyous occasions. They are all gone. We spent our entire professional years together with a sense that we would always be together.
Until last week it never dawned on me we would never be together again, ever, not in eternity. They were righteous people but not believers, and although I assumed Heaven was surely the final act, now I’m not sure?
We know and read in our Bible, John 14:6: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ”
I can’t imagine eternity without my guys, but I also know my God is a compassionate loving God and I have to believe in their last dying breath they all accepted the Lord before the final curtain.