Saturday, October 07, 2006

Si Waitzman, ? - 2006

Si and I were neighbors for many years. When I moved to Brooklyn Heights in 1983, he was living in my building. Si was an architect, and designed the rooftop deck on which my family, friends and I enjoyed many sunsets and Fourth of July fireworks displays. He was an outgoing, friendly man with a winning smile.

Besides an interest in architecture, something Si and I had in common was smoking. Some years ago, he began to lose his voice. Then I learned he had been diagnosed with throat cancer, and would need surgery. A month or so later, I was standing in front of our building having a cigarette when Si walked up to me and whispered, "You've got to quit that if you don't want to end up like me." His larynx had been removed, and with it his voice.

Si's advice weighed heavily with me: I quit cold turkey a few months later.

For the past few years, I would see him now and then (he had moved, but stayed in the neighborhood), and occasionally have a short chat - the most he seemed able to manage, as even whispering was evidently a strain on his throat. He was delighted when I told him I'd stopped smoking. Usually, I would see him on nice days, sitting at a table outside Starbucks on Montague Street. He would always give me a smile and a wave.

Today I heard from a neighbor that Si died. I'll miss him very much, and always be grateful for his advice.