The Greatest Man

My father was the greatest man I have every known. Anybody who knew my father surely understands my sentiment.

Finding an honest, humble, loving man like my father is not an easy task.

My dad grew up in Arizona where he loved to play golf; it was his passion. He was one of the top golfers for his team at the University of Arizona. He continued playing golf until the last years of his life when his body couldn’t do it anymore. Whenever the guys had a match, they wanted my father on their team. I had the privilege of playing with him one last time, just this last February. He was starting to lose more and more strength in his legs, but we went out to the putting green. Even then, he was a great golfer.

In addition to his golfing career, my father also had a successful working career. After graduating from the University of Arizona, he received his MBA. Throughout his career, he worked with numerous employers in California and Colorado, the last being Colorado Interstate Gas. His work was stressful and demanding. He had bosses who gave him a lot of pressure. Nonetheless, he was a beloved leader at the companies he worked. The accountants who worked for him were blessed; they couldn’t have worked for a better man.

Though his work was not easy, though his health was not good, he never missed a day. Every morning he woke up early, took his medicine, sat down with the newspaper, ate his breakfast, then went to work. He did this everyday. Then, after work he would take me to hockey practice or my sister to ice-skating. Sometimes, my hockey practice was more than a hour and a half away, but he would pick me up, bring me to practice, chat with the parents, bring me home, then get to bed because he knew he had to go to work the next day.

In the end of his working career, his health had started to take a toll, and he retired. If he were healthier, he would have worked for many more years. Though he was a successful businessman, in the end, he didn’t really like his work. He worked to support his family. From a young age, my father always told me to follow my heart and do what I love. Because my father encouraged me to pursue a life and job I have a passion for, I eventually decided to work overseas in China. I have always had a passion for travel – something I got from my mom – and I tried to follow my passions as my father had suggested. He wanted me to be happy. Till the day he died, he tried to encourage me to do what makes me happy.

In addition to his full-time job, my father was also a businessman. He owned, rented, and sold many houses and apartments since he was a young man. At one time, he owned and managed property in Colorado, New York, New Jersey, and Hilton Head. He didn’t own these properties to be rich. He didn’t own these properties to show off. He didn’t own these properties to live in. He owned these properties as an investment to help take care of his family. While many people would brag about being this successful, did any of his friends know this? No. He was a humble man.

To my father, family was the most important. He met his wife in California. They were only together for six months before they decided to get married. They were happily married for 47 years. He loved his wife very much. They were always side-by-side. Together they took care of their real estate company. After retiring, they traveled all over the world. They were travelers. They visited me numerous times in China. They took a 12-hour trip from Beijing to Xi’an on a crowded, smelly train, walked the Great Wall, visited Hong Kong, and many more places. They had a good time. My father and mother were a team. Every time I saw my father, he asked about mom. In the end, he saw my mom everywhere. When I visited him at rehab, he thought every person who passed the room was mom. He yelled out, “Laura!” Before passing on, he made me promise to take care of her when he leaves, a promise I will surely keep.

My father loved my sister and me. Everything he did was for us. In fact, all he wanted to do was to be close to us. He followed us everywhere. In the end, he moved into a house one block away from his daughter and two grandchildren. This made him very happy. He had the chance to see my sister and her two children. They loved him very much, and he knew it. As for me, whatever I was doing, he did. For example, when my life revolved around hockey, his life revolved around hockey. After graduating from university, he dedicated his life to helping me find a career I loved. I have also expressed my desire to start a business of my own, this became his passion as well. Just a month ago, I told my mom I want to invest in real estate. Once he heard this, he was on the internet researching property investments for me. Everything he did, was for his family.

My father was also a loving son and brother. When I was young, he used to bring me to Arizona to visit my grandma. I never got to meet my grandfather or uncle on my father’s side. My father’s dad died when he was very young. His stepfather and brother also died at a young age. It was not easy for my father losing loved ones at such a young age. Nonetheless, he loved them very much. My father was a family man; he loved and took care of everybody in his life.

My father was a faithful man. He went to church and read the Bible. When possible, he attended Bible study with his friends. In fact, on his Kindle, the only book he really read in his later years was the Bible. When his health was better, he volunteered. Most importantly, he treated everybody he came across with kindness. No matter who they were, what they believed, their social status, he treated everybody the same.

I have fond memories of my father. Driving with him to hockey practice, chatting with him in a New York diner, traveling with him to historical spots on the East Coast, visiting him in the hospital, seeing him with his grandchildren, watching him rub his wife’s back … these are all precious memories. The last time I saw my dad, he was doing better. His thinking was clearer and he was the dad I have always known, smiling and laughing. My father passed away just 12 hours before I returned home to visit. He died while I was on the plane. Though I am very saddened I couldn’t see him just one more time, I am extremely happy to know that he was happy and excited to see me that day.

No writer could put into words how wonderful my father was. Ask anybody who knew him, and they would agree. It was the way he treated people with the utmost generosity. It was his gentle way about him. It was his humble nature. With all his successes in life, nobody would have ever known by talking to him. He never bragged. The way he looked at people with his green eyes and smile made everybody in his presence at ease. Everywhere he went, he was loved. When I was young, all the hockey parents enjoyed his company. His employees at worked loved him as their manager. At the rehab he spent time at during his last year, they loved him. When he had to go back to the rehab center the last time, all the nurses and aides smiled when “Jedi” came back. When he rolled into dialysis every week, all the workers loved him.

My father passed away happy; he knew he was loved. He told me he prayed to Jesus for all the love he received from his family. My father fought type 1 diabetes for over 50 years. This disease would eventually affect his heart and kidneys. He didn’t smoke and hardly ever drank. Whatever diet the doctor told him to follow, he would follow. Anybody else with his health problems, would not have survived as long as he did. He was quite sick this last year. He was in pain and couldn’t sleep. Nonetheless, he kept fighting. He wanted to live for his family. Anybody with his health problems, wouldn’t have made it this long. He lived until his body couldn’t take it anymore. Right till the end, he remained positive. Even at dialysis, he would sit in his chair and smile. My father died on the morning of my mom’s 70th birthday, and though he was quite weak, he was able to wish her a happy birthday. He would die just an hour later.

To list all the things I learned from my father, I would need to write a book. He didn’t actually “teach” me everything I learned. Instead, I learned it from observing the way he lived. Budgeting money to working hard to treating everybody with respect to taking care of health, I learned a lot. Perhaps most importantly, I learned how to be kind to everybody and how to take care of family members.

Jed Shaw Holtzman was the greatest man I have ever known. He gave his family a wonderful life. We all miss him very much.

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