In Remembrance Of My Friend Fadi Malouf — 1956-2014
By Stephen Labovsky
Sunday, November 2, 2014
When I first learned about the death of my friend Fadi Malouf on Thursday, my thoughts immediately turned to the last time we were together. It was just two weeks ago, and I was in The Mission on my way home. I was passing the Mission Farmers’ Market when it occurred to me that I hadn’t spoken to Fadi in awhile, so I decided to swing by his booth and say hello.
That day Fadi and I did what we always did when we got together: Talked Middle-East politics, teased one another and laughed a lot. Then, after Fadi promised we’d get together in Glen Park to have coffee, we said our good-byes. My last memory of Fadi was of him flashing that wonderful Fadi smile— then he was gone
The arch of Fadi’s life was far from easy: He grew up in Lebanon, but like so many Lebanese, emigrated to the States at the start of the Lebanese civil war. In America, Fadi would earn a degree in Viticulture (winemaking) at UC Davis, and go on to work in distilling, until a terrible industrial accident left him with 3rd degree burns, and close to death.
That accident, left more than physical scares, and while recovering, Fadi went to work for his cousin Rick at The Cheese Boutique. Fadi and Rick grew up together in Beirut and were as close as brothers. I have a clear memory of the day I saw Fadi at the Cheese Boutique and he wanted me to try a sample of some homemade fig jam he had made. He told me about his plan to go into the jam-making business, and had chosen the name Grandma’s, after his own grandmother, who taught him how to make fig jam. By the start of his third year in business, Fadi was making over a dozen jams and selling in three local farmers’ market. At the time of his death he was trying to figure out how to scale up his production so he could sell to grocery stores all over California.
Fadi had more than a few ups and downs in his life, but nothing ever seemed to diminish his warmth and charm—and that signature Fadi smile.
My father (who live to be 103) use to tell me, “When you are born, you are crying while everyone else in the room is smiling. The secret to a happy life is to make sure that when you die, you are smiling and everybody else in the room is crying.”
On Sunday, a few hundred of Fadi’s family and friends gathered at St. Nicolas Church to say their goodbyes. Many tears were shed. Afterward as I was returning home, I couldn’t help thinking that Fadi surely had a happy life, rich in family, and rich in friends— a man who will always be remembered in the afterglow of his smile.