To the Ranch He Will Return

I believe less in prayer and far more in modern medicine. So, in Ariel Sharon's difficult hours, and ours, I haven't thought of God, but of the doctors. And if God wants to help anyway, no one minds; on the contrary - by all means let him.

Now, I am called on to write words that are essentially a eulogy for the prime minister, but are certainly not a eulogy for Ariel Sharon. It appears he will not return to his job, and we can only hope he will return to his ranch and his family.

It is well known we have been sworn enemies, and only the past year was an exception: The disengagement from the Gaza Strip connected us - a momentary connection. Every effort must be made not to let political rivalry supplant compassion; it is difficult enough for politicians to retain their humanity during a serious dispute. I remember well how Sharon was concerned for my well-being when I was hospitalized for a cranial operation, and my concern is now with him.

Why hide the truth - I wanted Sharon replaced; but in a country like ours, a democracy, prime ministers are replaced at the polling station and not in the operating theater.

In two instances, I saw Sharon from up close:

The first was in 1977, when he offered me the number-two slot on his Shlomzion list. To this day, I am not sure if he seriously wanted our partnership or if it was in jest. I assume he was serious, although with Sharon, one can never be sure.

And the second was in the two years I served as the opposition whip, when he was already prime minister, and the law required us to meet at least once a month. We met more often.

And now, we can say what we really talked about in those frequent meetings; and a surprise is in store for you: Ten minutes were dedicated to a "security update." Thereafter, we enjoyed slamming a few politicians from every party - his party, my party. Finally, we gossiped about our families - he, about his sons; me, about my sons and daughter - and we reveled in our beloved grandchildren. His face shone, and it was evident he had a really good time. Arik is a family man of the first order. I am certain that the fates of Omri and Gilad, in the imbroglios of investigations, cost him his health.

Ariel Sharon has always been known, particularly during his time as prime minister, for his self control and discipline.

At the most difficult times, he was the champion of self restraint and calm. Bibi perspired and Arik was totally cool. I looked at him in those moments in the Knesset and suspected that under the cool exterior, a storm raged.

From the family ranch he came, and to the family ranch he will return when he recovers.

That is the place Arik truly loves - his home. For a moment, I imagine I'll go to visit. We'll sit on the porch, watch the birds fly by, and envisage the peace we have sought all our lives and never seen.

Of course we will speak of the "security situation," and then we'll slam a few good friends, before exchanging new pictures of our grandchildren and updating each other on their achievements.