Yesterday, the ninth of September 2003 at 6 AM, 4 police officers came to the door with a social worker. They knocked on the door while I was working on the computer. I went to the door and through the peephole I saw the police and asked, " What do you want?" thinking that they had come to arrest me for some reason. Maybe one of the neighbors or somebody had made some stupid allegation against me so I refused to open the door. Eventually I did, but refused to allow them in until I was told the reason for their visit. A senior officer was standing in the front and realized that I was not going to allow him in until I got an answer out of him.” Are you the father of Omer Rubin?" I said I was. "Your son was drowned at sea in a boating accident". I was stunned. Shula was standing behind me saying, "Let them in. Can't you see that they have come as a delegation to tell us that something has happened to Omer?”
The policewoman telephoned my daughter Michal to come immediately to the house. (She lives about a ten-minute drive from us.) As soon as she heard the terrible news she burst out crying. I tried to comfort her by holding her and suddenly I realized what had happened and I too started sobbing. This was a start of what seems, only after two days, like two years. I was completely dumbfounded as this being a terrible loss. People coming and going all day - close friends of Omer, of whom he seemed to have very many, all dumbfounded and coming to give us their condolences and to get comfort from his closest, and giving us comfort by spending time with us, I tried to gather every bit of information from his friends of what they had remembered of Omer this made me feel closer tom him. Many people we had not known, some of Orit's friends (Omer's girlfriend for over a year), to us strange faces soon to become familiar from their constant presence in the house and in the garden. Alex, Michal's husband took over command of all the technical arrangements, which certainly seem complicated - the connection with the Foreign Ministry, the Chevra Kadisha and Omer's insurance company to pay for the transfer of his body back home for burial. Our daughter took over and answered all the telephone calls and contacted family and friends. The phone has never stopped ringing.
Omer came to say goodbye on Thursday the 28th of August, the day he was making the final arrangements for his trip to Boston via London. He had been accepted as a member of the crew of 3 on the Pacific Attitude, a 24m aluminum cruiser whose task was to bring the boat to Israel. He was enthusiastic about this trip; it had always been a dream of his to cross the Atlantic on a boat and he jumped at the idea He took off from work for a month with his boss' agreement. He needed some $cash in case of any eventuality and I had $350 which I gave to him. He wanted to take some fishhooks for fishing on the way. I had some in the workshop, which I gave to him. He also wanted his G.P.S., which I had locked away. He took some warm clothes for we knew it would be cold in Canada. It is always hard for Omer to leave the house. He always came back to get something that he had left behind, and particularly that day, he felt the special need for the second kiss and hug. He still had many people he wanted to say goodbye to, so he left us for the last time after lunch.
Orit took Omer to the airport on Friday the 29th of August at 5 in the morning and by 7-35 he was on his way to London. On the plane he sat with a couple, by chance friends of his who, last night, came and told us that they been laughing all the way to London enjoying his company. On arrival at Heathrow he had 4 hours to get his connecting flight at Gatwick. He took a taxi and was charged $170 for the ride arriving just in time to catch the plane. He managed to make a phone call to Orit. Omer arrived in Boston where he managed to make a few phone calls to Ari, his brother in Florida, Orit, and to us. He was met at the airport by the owner of the yacht, Arik, and went straight to the marina to start the first leg of the journey to Halifax, Canada - a 50-hour journey. We received an account of the events of their voyage by email from Hadassah, Arik's girlfriend who was in touch with them by satellite phone. The following relate the sequence of events.
On Monday, the first of September, Finally we have news. The boat is in Halifax after experiencing a little storm as they left Gloucester. Boat functions beautifully, crew don't like Canadian weather, Arik takes long shifts and, so far tries to be the perfect cook. Shopping list: Omer bought Orit a present, Victor got extra tea bags, and Arik makes do with more fuel...standby for more news." At 11: 19 PM "out in the ocean, 40 miles out of Halifax (less than an hour ago). According to plan should pass by the Stable Islands in about 20 hours. Boat functions superbly, crew seems to be happy and well fed. Weather nice so for, is expected to be windy later on. Bearings: 44 25 43 North, 62 56 78 west course-117 degrees speed about 6-7 knots. More to come in 24 hours.
Thursday September 4, 2003 11: 24 pm. "Lousy connection - that a short update received about 21: 30 tonight.200 nautical miles out of Halifax. Boat and crew okay. Weather: windy (20-26), frothy waves up to ten feet. The bearings: 44 0 7 21 North, 59 20 72 west, 6.4 knots.
Friday, September 5, 2003 11: 48 Pm. the iridium phone proves to be a disappointment. Bad connections (frustrating!), charges for each unsuccessful call (very frustrating!) Therefore we settle for the short information mode. Tonight at 22-00 340 nautical miles out of Halifax (total distance amounts to 1550!!!). Course 124 degrees boat and crew settling into a routine-watch\sleep\maintenance\chaw (with only one cook aboard. Last night characterized by high waves. At some point starboard (right) engine started stuttering, could sometimes to be diagnosed as filter problem that disappeared after replacing the filter. Such magic! By the way you know the story of the man who keeps spare parts for whatever he has? That's the one. Weather: very nice (topless on deck, getting suntanned), though there are swells in water.
Bearings: 43 28 59 North, 55 56 67 West, speed 6-7 knots.
It's a long way to the Azores...stay tuned.
Sunday, September 7 , 2003 6-55 am.
Hi, this evening at 23-00 - the boat was about 486 nautical miles out of Halifax, keeping a steady speed of 6.5 knots.
Bearings: 41 51 06 North, 52 48 22 West.
It's raining in the Atlantic, and establishing contact is very hard, conversation cut short time and again. So, if you have friends or acquaintances who operate short wave radios (ham radio) it may be a good idea to give them the call sign of the Pacific Attitude: whisky-alpha-delta-delta, frequency 2182.0 on SSB-often - to call from time to time. Please share information\updates with a list of this mailing list.
No, there is no reason whatsoever to get worried, it's just nice to have an alternative reliable communication route when satellite phone is not very satisfactory .
Those were the last updates received from Hadassa.
Following is an update from ABC News Online, Tuesday, September 9, 2003 - 7: 02 am.
HURRICANE FABIAN CLAIMS ANOTHER THREE LIVES.
Days after pounding Bermuda, hurricane Fabian claimed the lives of 3 men in the Atlantic Ocean after their motorised boat capsized in rough seas, according to Canadian rescue officials. Canadian coastguard ship Leonard J.Cowley retrieved the bodies of the men, who were wearing immersion suits, about 600 km east of Cape Race, Newfoundland.
A signal from an emergency radio beacon had alerted United States rescue officials to the men's plight on Sunday evening . "At the very same time that the beacon went off, the eye of the hurricane passed over that area", Canadian naval lieutenant Pat Jessop told Reuters . Waves at the time were "quite violent" and 12 to 16 m high, he added. Canada despatched Hercules aircraft, which spotted the light from emergency beacon ended the 3 men in water early on Monday morning.
At first light, the Hercules dropped a life raft and survival gear to the men, but they did not survive their ordeal . Lieutenant Jessop said the deaths were not expected because the men were in warm waters of the Gulf Stream and seas had calmed overnight.
The moderating conditions, along with immersion suits, should have allowed them to survive for 24 hours, he said .
And so we lost our son, Omer, to the Fabian hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. The Canadian Police sent an e-mail with his last photograph. This is standard procedure taken by the Canadian authorities for everyone crossing the Atlantic, and is kept on file for identification purposes. On Thursday night Omer arrived in St Johns and had be identified. I was asked for signs on his body to identify him as definitely being my son. I told of the round Tatoo on his left arm like two waves in a circle about 10 cm diameter, that he had been circumcised, he had his head shaven, and was about 80 kilos in weight. The police gave my message to the pathologist who checked out the details. A half-an-hour later the police called again and said it appears that Omer was not circumcised, and the tatoo was smaller (about 7 cm). The policeman corporal, Dwyer, suggested that he send us a picture of Omer by e-mail for definite identification. This arrived within a few minutes and everybody including my grandsons Ben, the seven-year-old and Asaf, 14 -year-old, crowded around the computer to see the picture, expecting to see Omer dead. We did not want the boys to be exposed to this, so they were asked to leave the room, and poor Ben did not understand why we had asked him to leave, and started crying . We opened the photograph on the screen and saw a beautiful picture of Omer, smiling and wearing a T shirt and a red sweater. This was certainly definite identification . Cpl Gerry Dwyer then told me he was very sorry about the terrible loss of my son and informed me that the next day his body would be sent to Montreal to be flown back Israel.
Ralph and Shula.
Omer’s funeral oration on 16th September 2003 at the Ashkelon Cemetery.
The first day that I heard the news and ask myself "how am I going to manage to go living with Omer gone”. The answer came to me, you must do as Omer said "look to the positive" and I said " no" and then the memory of Omer appears in my mind of him pointing at me with an angry face saying "yes", and I had to accept yes. And look for the positive and this is the 36 years he has given us.
Today is 9 days that we have heard the terrible accident when hurricane Fabian crossed the precise place that his boat was traveling, it feels like 9 years each day like a year, with people and sad faces passing through our house looking for comfort and giving us comfort by close contact to ease the pain, the faces becoming more familiar and slowly names become familiar and connected to the faces. I realized early on the necessity of an” Omer hug” to ease the pain, and I began to learn about his wonderful friends that kept on coming to us. They sat huddled up together for comfort outside on the huge mat, which his friends who had brought, together with it that they put up for shade on the lawn.
“How did he do it?” I ask myself how was he able to make so many good friends? Then I started looking and speaking to his friends and asking them what connections they had with him and what they remembered of him, and I told them that I wanted to record what they said, in order to keep his memory alive. Then I realized that I must look into my own memory for I had stored an enormous amount about Omer in the 36 years of his life, and I had to try and sort out what made him so special. While on kibbutz Zikim where we were living for 14 years, I had my apprenticeship as a parent with Michal and Ari, maybe not to successful because I was learning on them, we were 24 years old when Michal was born we were children bringing up children. We had our children for three hours a day from 4: 30 to 7: 30, the children came to our rooms this was time holy for children where we played and spent this time with them.
Returning the children was a critical time, apparently the children felt that it was hard to be separated from their parents, as was registered on the faces of the parents, and reflected back to the children. When Omer was three years old, it struck me like a bolt of lightning, that I must smile at him, and I decided to try and give him a big smile, and it worked he smiled back at me, from then on I smiled at him and it was easy to depart from him in the children's house. And we have been smiling at each other for 36 years,
Love when given is reflected back to those that give the love, like a mirror reflects the light that flows into it, and now all of love that we receive, comes to us from everyone that came into contact with Omer, this is the love that Omer distributed freely to all he came in contact with. Whenever we departed Omer always gave us a hug and kiss, and that is why I call it the " Omer's hug." And it eases the pain to have an " Omer hug" from whomever I possibly can, and especially from my very close family and friends.
Two important lessons Omer taught me, one was " to forgive" he said having grievances against someone, this does not harm the person that you have grievances against. It would only harm you. Only now when I come face-to-face in contact with death did I realize the significance of what he said, all of the grievances becomes irrelevant, unimportant, nothing, all wasted energy that could be wisely spent creating something, so I have decided to forgive the let my grievances drain into the soil.
Another lesson taught me by Omer while he was teaching me to use his computer, he said " you have to learn by doing", as simple as that .Now that we are departing from his body we have to smile on him a big smile, and Omer’s free spirit will smile back at you into your heart.
And now I have to depart from him again and I smile at him, And he smiles back at me, and when ever I go down to the sea and swim I feel his free spirit flowing into me. Anyone who he had any contact with, can get comfort from Omer through going to the sea, sailing, swimming, watching the pounding of the waves, or just enjoying a sunset which he so enjoyed to watch while soaking in the vibes of the sea.
We are burying Omer today but to me he is not dead he is all around me, in the filtered water that he installed a month ago, every time I have a drink of filtered water I feel Omer, every time I swim or go sailing, or snorkel under the surface of the sea, walk along the beach or watch the Sunset I feel Omer. We are burying Omer’s body today but his free spirit will stay with us forever.
Words said by Ralph at the unveiling of Omer's grave stone.
Whenever I feel sad and want to burst out crying I hear in my head Omer's voice coming to me saying aba stay focused on life, and I carry on secure that Omer is still with me in my memories and in my heart, I have to choose between life or death, obviously life is stronger. Yesterday we received by post Omer's personal belongings found on him when he was taken out of the water in the north Atlantic and sent to us by the Foreign Ministry. Everything still soaked by the north Atlantic water; his 3 passports 2 Israeli and South African were amazing it was as if they were made for such an ordeal still in tact. His wallet with all contents also survived the ordeal, the telephone book suffered abuse by the Atlantic waters all the, telephone numbers and names remained, his watch a divers watch survived the Fabian hurricane and was still telling us the time in Halifax. Finally I managed with help to get pictures of the Pacific Attitude, and the two older men he spent the last adventure in his life.
On our trips overseas with the sailing yacht Solution with three hulls a trimarang, we were always keen to fill up the boat to make the crossing to help us stand watch at night and to help with the expenses, we had 6 bunks and the idea was to leave with 6 crew.
We always stopped in Cyprus for a break and taking on supplies, Omer always invited some of his friends to come with us, in Cyprus they would rent motorbikes to get around and see the island, this was the highlight for his friends for they did not need a driving license the problem was that they had to drive on the left-hand side of the Road, which took a little while to get used to. On this particular Trip he had brought with him three friends, Pinchas, Gal and Oozy, they had rented the bikes and made their way along the main Road, suddenly Pinchas disappeared, they returned to look for him and found him on other side of the road in a ditch, he explained that he was driving along quietly on right-hand side and suddenly a motor car was on he's side of the road, and to save himself he went off the road and landed in the ditch unharmed.
Omer wanted to fly in any form possible in the snow on he's snowboard, in the sea with his windsurf flying out of the sea into the air and then back into the sea, or on the land with his tractor-on we had many photographs of Omer in the air. While in Roados Omer kept me on the beach photographing him flying out of the sea. When sailing the ocean Omer enjoyed being towed behind the boat surfing on his chest while hanging onto the steps. When he came out of the sea he took a bottle of water we had prepared of fresh water to wash himself off the saltwater, while standing naked on deck, and when I photographed him he covered himself with his hands and gave a beautiful smile one of his best at the age of 15.
While anchored at Dubrovnik a sudden storm came up, many of the boats in the harbor would have been damaged by hitting the concrete jetty, he was out on the jetty climbing from boat to boat distancing them from the jetty and so saving the boats. He had sailing in his blood and was in continuous contact of all surrounding him, when coming back from Yugoslavia in the Adriatic Sea, he was on watch and sitting with a harness as we normally do at night we were sailing south towards Greece, suddenly I heard the patter of his feet on deck, I went up to investigate and saw that Omer had dropped the sails and was already tying then down, and suddenly the Bora Bora (the vicious North wind of the Adriatic sea) hit with all its force and would surely have had torn the sails to pieces, and maybe downed the mast , because of his awareness he had saved the sails and we carried on with smaller reefed sails to our destination.
Omer must be remembered by the light he brought into our lives, Omer was a bright light and his memory will be cherished by many people, by his optimism, by his love,” Love is not what you can get, but what you can give”, by the way he influenced our lives, always a good friend to others having this special knack of bonding with people, He was such a guy that accepts everyone for what they are, such a precious nature. Our hearts are breaking from sadness but we must still find place in our hearts to celebrate the life he lived. And the heritage he left us. We must find comfort in the fact that Omer was loved, respected and admired by so many and will be remembered for the good and happiness he brought to so many people .His voice keeps on ringing out to me! Be careful do not take chances this we must learn from this terrible tragedy.
מזכירים את אהבתך לים
היאכטה שבנית, הטיול בעולם
הארוחות המשפחתיות בימי שישי
הצלילות, ההוסטל, הטאי צ'י
לידם על הדשא יושבת אורית
לבד עם חלום שנשבר כזכוכית
עדיין לא מבינה איך ומדוע
כל שנשאר לה הם כאב וגעגוע
ובאוויר תלויות השאלות
קשות, מפריעות, כל כך מציקות
עם תשובות שלא נקבל אף פעם
כי לקחת אותם איתך, אי שם
עברו כבר ימים, עברו כבר שבועות
לא נרגע הכאב, לא יבשו הדמעות
כל חייך היו לפניך, זה לא פייר
אתה כל כך חסר לנו, עْמר
אני יודעת שזמנך איתנו נגמר
ששלוותך וחיוכך אמורים להיות "עבר"
אבל אני מרגישה אותם מסביבנו
וכך אני רוצה לזכור אותך, לנצח, בליבנו
חיפשתי לאורך החוף סימן ממך
שיעזור לי להבין את מה שקרה
לא מצאתי כלום מלבד קונכייה
בודדה, רטובה כבוכייה
את הים שומעים בתוכה
אבל אותך רציתי לשמוע
שתגיד לי מה קרה שם בים
ולמה לא נתראה עוד לעולם
רצית להגשים את חלומך
בהתלהבות עודדנו אותך
ואם מישהו הראה דאגה
צחקת ואמרת "על דאגה"
נפרדת מהחברים, מהמשפחה
ואחרי חיבוק אחרון לאורית נסעת
לא עברו כמה ימים ובאמצע הלילה
העיר אותנו הטלפון עם הבשורה
עכשיו כולנו יושבים אצלך
מנסים לתמוך במשפחתך
מעלים זיכרונות למרות הכאב
עם חיוך קפוא וקרע בלב
חבריך הרבים את ביתך לא עוזבים
מקובצים, מחובקים, כואבים
מחפשים בלי למצוא מילים שעוזרות
בגרון חנוק ועיניים אדומות