One year ago today, a beloved, wise man died.
In the Holocaust, Nissan Krakinowski lost his whole family except for his brother, Chaim.
Nissan went on to build a successful life in New York, owning two hat factories where he worked with Chaim. Nissan married Rose and they had two daughters they adored, Pessie and Shayndee. He revered his in-laws who also shared his home. Family meant everything to Nissan.
His warmth, humor, and kindness drew people to him. His family kept growing as younger people adopted him as their Zaydee (grandfather).
For years, he shared his Holocaust experience with audiences in speaking appearances throughout the U.S. He made them cry. Yet, as tragic as his stories were, he also made them laugh, his eyes twinkling, his smile full of mischief. His hope and wisdom touched the hearts of untold thousands.
Nissan and I met face-to-face only once yet connected instantly, described in this post.
When we talked by phone, he often mourned the deaths of his brother, wife, and both daughters. He said a person doesn’t die as long as their name is remembered. I told him if I had a child, I would name him Nissan to keep his name alive but, since I’m in my 60s, the chances were small.
With characteristic humor and optimism, he answered, “You never know. Miracles can happen.”
As a writer, I have only one small vehicle by which to preserve the memory of his name–in one of my books, I named a character Nissan.
Perhaps his many adopted grandchildren will carry on his name when their children are born.
Nissan would like that.