This chapter is from the book I wrote on Nachshon’s journey. Much of the book comprises emails sent on a daily basis to Dotan, Nachshon’s younger brother, to update him on Nachshon’s journey after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. The source was his upper left arm but it had spread to other parts of his body and could not be removed by surgery. Nachshon had secondary cancer in his gullet, liver, lymph, and brain.
The following is a chapter from the book. I am also looking for a good publisher.
Chapter 6: Paris April/May 2014
The Dreadful Day
Around the middle of December 2013, Nachshon was experiencing heartburn every day. He tried to relieve it by taking indigestion tablets, but it only got worse. Soon he was not able to eat and was feeling constantly nauseous. He decided to see a doctor as he was also losing a lot of weight. He was sent to do an endoscopy, and they found a polyp in his gullet which they did not remove. I was with him that day, and it was clear that something was not right: there was a reason why they could not remove the polyp.
That was the day that life as I knew it changed forever.
We knew there was nothing more that could be done for Nachshon, the cancer was incurable. So, we decided instead of make Nachshon last month’s unhappy we decided to make Nachshon dream come true. And his dream was to see Paris and especially the Louver, so Keith (not Nachshon’s father) started to organize it all, who in a million years would have thought it possible, but knowing Keith as I do, I was not surprised.
This is how it went….
Keith Bookman Date: 07/03/14 A: Martinez Jean-Luc Objet : Need help to fulfill a boy’s dream
I have an unusual request, and I will fully understand if you cannot help me. But even if you are not able to help, I hope that you can point me in the direction of someone else.
Our son, Nachshon, was recently diagnosed with a form of cancer for which there is no known treatment. Not a very bright outlook for a 41 year old. We do not know how long he will be with us, but we want to everything possible to make his remaining time memorable.
He is a student of fine arts who supports himself as an artist (drawing, painting, sculpting, and carving) and who has always dreamed of visiting Paris, so we plan to make his dream come true by taking him to Paris on April 29 until May 8.
As I mentioned, he is an artist, so I thought that perhaps there is something that we could organize for him that would have some really special meaning to him. I really don’t know what could be organized for him, but I had a few ideas that I am sure could be built upon:
I know, for example, that at the Louvre there is a collection of Leonardo da Vinci sketches that are rarely put on exhibit.
A visit to a restoration department of one of the city’s galleries to see what goes on behind the scenes.
A meeting with a curator at the Louvre for a behind-the-scenes tour—curator to artist. I understand that as they move works in and out of special exhibits, they have a whole behind-the-scenes operation that an artist would love to see.
Again, even if you cannot personally help, perhaps you can suggest someone who I could contact to make Nachshon’s trip to Paris very special for him.
On 07/03/14 16:50, JLM wrote:
Dear Mr. Bookman,
I received your message. Under the very particular circumstances you mentioned, I am happy to answer you positively.
We will be happy to receive your son Nachshon for a special visit to be determined, but he probably should see with our curator drawings of the Old Masters and the “atelier de restoration” of the Louvre’s Drawings Department and perhaps more.
If it seems interesting for your project I propose you contact my advisor Benoît de Saint Chamas and he will arrange everything.
Président-directeur du Louvre
Keith Bookman Envoyé: samedi 19 avril 2014 21:29À: Objet: Need help to fulfil a boy’s dream
I am following up on the kind offer that JLM made to organize a special visit to the Louvre for our son.
(I must apologize for the length of time since our last correspondence: our son caught an infection, and had to spend some time in hospital. However, he is healthy and well now, and eagerly looking forward to his trip to Paris).
Nachshon speaks perfect English. In addition, his mother speaks French and could accompany him.
Is it possible to arrange something special during his visit to Paris? It does not need to be a lengthy event – something like 1 or 2 hours would be a wonderful experience for him.
I should also mention that Nachshon does not know anything about this plan: we intend to keep it as surprise for him – but I am sure that he will be really thrilled!
On 22/04/14 13:00, BSC wrote:
I will be happy to arrange a special visit for your son and his mother. (You won’t be present?)
We imagined 3 things:
A visit of the Louvre when closed (the best would be Tuesday 6th May because on 29th April we have the inauguration of a big exhibition with the President and everybody will be mobilized : if you are interested you could of course be invited…but there will be a lot of people). During the visit on 6th May, your son can have the Mona Lisa just for him.
A meeting with a curator of the Paintings Department
A visit of the “atelier de restoration” of drawings
Would you prefer everything on the same day or split into 3 different days? It depends also on the availability of curators.
I will wait for your answer before organizing the meetings.
Directeur de Cabinet du Président du Louvre
De: Keith Bookman Envoyé: mardi 22 avril 2014 13:27 À:
Need help to fulfil a boy’s dream
Your suggestions are much more than I had anticipated!
A private viewing of the Mona Lisa would indeed be something very special, and I think that Nachshon would be highly interested in visiting the “atelier de restorations” of drawings. I think that those two things would make a really special event for Nachshon.
Would it be possible to arrange those two things on the same day?
Altogether, we are a party of 4 persons – Nachshon, his mother, his brother, and I. I envisioned this event as something special for Nachshon, although it would be even more wonderful if all four of us could participate. But I would fully understand if that would be too many people.
PARIS April 29- May 8th 2014
We took an EL AL flight to Paris. It was so exciting to see Nachshon so happy. The flight was fine and he was not too tired as he hadn’t worked the night before. We arrived at around 14:00 and took the airport train into central Paris. We walked out of the station at St. Germaine and looked for Dotan (Nachshon’s younger brother). There he was, sitting in a café, smoking and drinking coffee. He looked wonderful and so very handsome. We had our hugs and kisses and then Nachshon and Dotan hugged; it was a very touching moment. Dotan had not seen Nachshon since he was diagnosed with cancer. They were both emotional as was I. It was a wonderful reunion for us all.
We then crossed the road to our apartment.
The apartment was big and very spacious, and we loved it. Nachshon had his own room and bathroom, and Dotan had a queen-size bed in the living room. Us, well, we had our own private flat on the next floor up. The dining room was large with a nice big table.
The first thing we did was go and get food. We found a touristy place, but actually the food was good especially if you are starving. We talked, and it was great for all of us to be together. Nachshon was fine.
Then we walked around the streets of Paris with Nachshon and Dotan talking and laughing, and Dotan showing off all the places he had been and seen.
It was clear that all Nachshon really wanted was to go to the Louvre. That evening he planned out exactly how much time we would need before it would get boring for us all. The next day we got up early; the excitement on Nachshon’s face was self-evident. After breakfast we walked to the Louvre. It was a 10-minute walk. Nachshon walked very fast. He was so happy, and we chatted and laughed all the way. I explained to him that there would be huge numbers of tourists viewing the Mona Lisa, and I suggested that we try and go another day. At this stage, he had no idea about the special surprise awaiting him.
Keith bought us museum passes which allowed us entry to any museum in Paris. As usual in these places, there were so many people waiting in line to buy tickets— the queue must have been a mile long. But, me being me, I had no patience for this, and I told the boys to wander off and let me deal with things. Dotan, as usual, did not like me doing this and got annoyed, but I didn’t care; I just did what I do best and jumped the queue. There was a very nice young German man very close to the ticket office. I went up to him and said: “would you mind if I jumped the queue?” He replied, “no problem.” This was after I had whispered something in his ear about time being of essence and that we had no time to waste.
Nachshon was so excited and so were we. Dotan had been to the Louvre many times, and he helped us get around. We didn’t tell Nachshon anything yet about the surprise in store for him, so when we passed room 6, I just told him not to look as we would go and see the Mona Lisa the next day when there were less people. As usual there were hundreds of people in that room, just trying to take a photo or catch a glimpse of the famous portrait.
That evening we had supper at the flat with Dotan in charge of making the food. He cut up the avocados and squeezed the lemons we had brought with from our garden in Israel and then put out the salamis, cheeses, baguette and wine, and we all dug in. That evening Keith told Nachshon about the surprise, the special day that we had organized for him at the Louvre and the private viewing of the Mona Lisa. Nachshon was stunned; he just couldn’t believe it. I explained that we have a full day private tour at the Louvre on Tuesday when the museum is closed to the public. He just said, “I can’t believe it” over and over again. He had tears in his eyes and said, “Keith you have done so much for me. I don’t know what to say. You have out done yourself this time. Thank you so very much.” He then came and hugged me and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. Dotan was happy for Nachshon and also thrilled as we were all invited to the private tour. What an evening! The boys chatted about Paris and this and that, and I just sat back, listening and taking it all in; I knew that these moments may never happen again.
The day at the Louvre was really a very special day.
Nachshon was so excited. He put on his best shirt, Dotan got suited up, and I even put on a dress and a lot of make-up. Well, we had to make a good impression! Even Nachshon told me how nice I looked.
We arrived at the Louvre’s private entrance and were escorted to the waiting room.
Benoît came to greet us, we put all our belongings in a room, and we started the tour. Nachshon was so happy; the shy smile on his face says it all. We were taken through the back rooms of the Louvre, and then all of a sudden there was a door which when opened was part of the wall— basically a hidden door. We turned around and were all stunned to realize that it brought us out right at Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Just look at Nachshon’s face and you can understand the full picture:
Keith explained about the private day in the following article that was translated into Hebrew and published in the local weekly magazine of Kibbutz Ramat David. Nachshon did not want to show off about it (he didn’t believe people would be interested in things like this), but eventually we managed to get him to agree to have it published.
One of Nachshon’s great dreams was to visit Paris, so we planned a visit for the late spring. I belong to some travel forums (where we swap travel ideas and information), and I asked if anyone had any ideas of a special treat for an artist in Paris. A woman from California suggested that I contact some of the larger galleries in Paris and tell them Nachshon’s story. The first place that I was contacted was the Louvre. I wrote to Jean-Luc Martinez, the président-directeur du Louvre, who immediately responded with a positive answer. All this was kept as a secret from Nachshon until the night before our visit.
We were invited to the Louvre on a Tuesday when the Louvre is closed to the public. We were met by the Mr. Martinez’s advisor and taken to the Salle des États where the Mona Lisa is displayed. There we were met by the curator Sabine de la Rochefoucauld who was extremely knowledgeable about every painting, sculpture, piece of furniture, and decoration in the museum. She took us on a two-hour tour of the (deserted) main gallery, and she explained the history of each work of art, including details that only a skilled curator would know. After a typical (two-hour) French lunch, we returned to the Louvre where we were met by Louis Frank, curator of Graphic Arts. He had selected 5 boxes of drawings and sketches by some of the great masters (including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and others.) These pieces of art are so delicate that they cannot be exposed to light more than once in three months, and then only for a short period of time. From there we were taken to the department that is responsible for restoring large pieces of work, such as frescos, and shown how they go about repairing and restoring damaged works of art.
Altogether we spent about 7 hours in the gallery. Anyone who has been to the Louvre will know how crowded it can be, especially in the room of the Mona Lisa. The experience, for all of us, of having access to such a wonderful collection of art was really something very special. We were especially privileged and honoured to have this special tour of the Louvre. For Nachshon, this was the ultimate artistic experience.
Thank You Note after the Visit
Keith Bookman Envoyé: dimanche 18 mai 2014 21:13 DSCObjet: Need help to fulfil a boy’s dream
I cannot find the words to express our gratitude for the amazing day that you organized for Nachshon. He is not an emotional person, but we could see in his eyes and in his face what it all meant to him. We would like to offer my thanks to you and to everyone else who gave time from their busy schedule to make the day so special for Nachshon.
Nachshon would like to write and thank those people, but he doesn’t have their names or email addresses. Apart from yourself, there were three other people who contributed their time and effort to the special day: the women (art historian) who showed us around the gallery in the morning, the curator who showed us drawings in the afternoon, and the woman from the restoration department who explained and demonstrated some of the restoration process. Could you please send us their names and email addresses so that Nachshon can write to them.
Again, our heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to such a special and memorable day.
(The attached photo says it all!)
Keith and Tamara
It was our pleasure, and I too will keep this special visit deep in my memory. I am very happy to have contributed a bit to fulfill your son’s dream. As requested, the people you met are :
Sabine de la Rochefoucauld (for the visit to Mona Lisa and the rest)
Louis Frank, the curator of arts graphiques who showed you the drawings
Valentine Dubard (atelier de restoration)
JLM, président of the Louvre
The picture is very nice! The power of art…
Later the Same Day
At around 17:00, Nachshon told me he wasn’t feeling well. I always carried a thermometer with me to check his temperature and found it was 39. I gave him a pill, and he said that he wanted to go home. He was really feeling bad. We had had so much excitement and happiness during the day, but we had to come back to reality; Nachshon was very ill and not even the Mona Lisa could save him.
You are welcome to sign the Guest book.
May his memory be blessed
שלא תדעי עוד צער..היה לו עולם פנימי עשיר ואת הכישרון לבטא אותו.
העבודות נפלאות ומרגשות, נחשון היה ללא ספק אדם מיוחד רגיש ומוכשר,תודה לכם.
beautiful amazing work of very talented artist
Very nice work
ars longa vita brevis - Hippocrates Ars longa, vita brevis is a Latin translation of an aphorism coming originally from Greek. The Latin quote is often rendered in English as Art is long, life is short. The aphorism quotes the first two lines of the Aphorismi by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates.
he was a great Artist !!!
SO WONDER FULL. ILAN MILCH
After seeing Nachshon's Art I'm really impressed . he was such a great artist. Thanks! you made this website for the world to see what we are missing by his passing away .
יצירות נפלאות, ולפי סיפור חייו -אמן בכל רמ"ח איבריו ובכל נימי נפשו. יהי זכרו ברוך.
Nachshon, you have left a gift for us all to enjoy. Thank you and come back quickly to continue your beautiful journey!
Nachsohn was a great and talented multimedia artist. He got different expressions of his impressions. It is very sad, that you lost him.
All this "life" story is a secret I feel we didn't yet revealed. We expect and we long and wonder. Beeing an artist means for me beeing a kind of an investigator. I see nachchon's work as such. Very sad to loose your child. It does not matter how. The time without is the thing that matters. Lucky you got all these evidences ... hugs and condolences .
נפלא ! מדהים ! כנראה שאלוהים רוצה את הטובים ביותר על ידו. יישר כוח תמרה
Fantastic Works,Art is the best what ever we Give the World this Time and next Time for the Generation..
Never stop drawing. Art is a talent that needs to be nurtured and a craft that requires dedication. No matter how good you think you are there is always room for improvement remember to always be your own biggest critic.
I'm proud to be asked to sign ! After seeing Nachshon's Art I deeply impressed . And I feel with you Tamara, he would have become a great artist ! So it is good you made this website for the world to see what we are missing by his passing away . Hope you wiil not know anymore sadness !! Michal
Wonderful work, really inspiring (!)