Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Grandfather's Clock, 90 Years

Today, June 5th 2012 would have been my Grandpa J's 90th Birthday. He has been gone almost 4 full years - but his spirit and legacy are still very much with us, every.day.

As I began to think about this day all I could think of was the song - "My Grandfather's Clock" - for some crazy reason we sang it in a play in second grade - it was a "Father Time" play. Seems a little morbid looking back - but I remember DG dressed up as Father Time - and I have never forgotten the words to this song.

Grandpa's Clock
My grandfather's clock
Was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half
Than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn
Of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

My grandparents had an amazing clock in their living room - (so happened it was a 'grandmother' clock but still, it is big). The sound is magnificent - and the memories of watching Grandpa wind it fill my heart - it was almost ritualistic.

I worried, as a 7 year old, if this clock would stop working when my Grandpa died...and if it did, what would I have to remember him by.

The clock still works beautifully - and I love listening it to it whenever I am at my parent's home - but I never had to worry about how I would remember him - he is a part of my every day.

He has influenced so much of who I am today, how J and I raise our children, how we value family and relationships, how we observe our Judaism. I know how proud he would be of all of us today, knowing that he had a hand in raising all of us and the decisions we make today as adults.

That other song that comes to mind is one that he used to sing: My Zayde 
But Zayde made us laugh,
Zayde made us sing,

And Zayde made a kiddush Friday night;

And Zayde, oh, my Zayde,How I loved him so,
And Zayde used to teach me wrong from right

So much has happened in the past 4 years, his absence has truly been felt...from the birth of E, to RD & D's wedding, and DR & A's wedding, Lolo's graduation from graduate school, DR & DL's graduations from law school, JP on Broadway, JP's engagement to A, Lolo's engagement to P, Unc on birthright, Bob and Belle learning to read Torah, all the teeth that have been lost and so many other everyday happenings where we would love to just pick up the phone and share it with him...

Happy Birthday George. We love you and we miss you everyday - but we know you are watching over us and all we do. From the tick-tock of the clock to kiddush Friday night and everything in between, you are a part of us and we are your amazing legacy.

Grandpa and me 1975
Grandma, Grandpa and Me 1977

Eulogy I gave at Grandpa's Funeral - 8-15-08

When thinking of Grandpa J, we think of a strong man, with strong values and strong opinions. Grandpa J was not shy about telling us, or anyone, his opinion. Everything he did, and all the choices he made were made with the best intentions and with his bubie – children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in mind.

We as his grandchildren learned much from him – but most importantly, the importance of family relationships. Grandpa, weather he meant to or not taught us that family time, through traveling and spending chagim together, create our most important memories and bonds. We as siblings, in groups, of three – EJ, SJ and RD – Lolo, Unc and me – JP, DR and DL, have emulated  the relationships our parents have modeled with each other…but we as cousins – all 9 of us - and now with the addition of our spouses – have a relationship that many siblings can only dream of.

As I stand here today– I can still here him say Hi Lissa Pooh as he answers the phone. Just in that right voice of his – in recent years it has been, how many kids do you have now? 4 – FOUR! You knocked out FOUR kids…but when I think Grandpa J, that isn’t what I remember.

I remember walking to the bathroom from my yellow room in their house – and hearing someone say, “is that a mouse I hear??” “a large mouse!”

Climbing into bed between Grandma and Grandpa and Grandpa trying to warm his toes on me – a talent I have inherited. I remember Grandpa rubbing his stubbly face on mine. And him smelling my cheek.

I remember watching fireworks out of the bedroom window after4th of July baseball games, and listening to airplanes overhead – by the direction grandpa knew where they were headed.

I remember sitting on the spinny stool in his office watching him work on everyone’s mouths. And I remember yelling at him to put both hands back on the wheel as he clapped to his chazonish music in the car.

I remember walking to shul with Grandpa and sitting on the wrong side of the mechitzah on his lap – with all the men, with the boys getting up to sing Anim Zemirot – and the bar mitzvah reading Torah – he would say, “Lissa Pooh, you are going to be do that soon.” The irony escaped me then,but he believed I would – and though it was at a very different shul, without a mechitzah – I did.

I remember walking to the record store, to buy my Aficoman present – Sader Party that has become infamous over these years and that Grandma B was able to bring back to us last year.

I don’t know if the other grandchildren know this – and I’m pretty sure my kids don’t – but Grandpa was way ahead of his time – maybe 4 or5 decades – with recycling. Grandpa used to type letters and notes on envelopes that he pulled out of his trash can in his office.

Long before the 75 year old Grandpa J mastered the world of“web-tv” 10 years ago, Grandpa wrote letters to congressmen and senators,presidents and vice presidents alike – and when that standard form letter came back he believed that people like the likes of President Regan were really writing to him. Boy were we concerned when his ability to mail out letters multiplied exponentially by the power of the forward button.

Grandpa J loved each one of us, in his own way. There were times when he was hard on each one of us – but grandpa truly believed that it was his responsibility, as the Dad, as the Grandpa and as the Zayde– like Moshe Rabeinu taught - to make sure his children all lived up to the best of their potential.

(Bob) – “the one with brains” you are named after  Zayde's cousin Jack.  Zayde loved your love of Judaism and your inquisitiveness, and your love for knowledge and reading. May you think not only of Hashem every time you “put a kippah on your head” – but  Zayde also.

(Belle) – “the smart blonde one” – you are named after  Zayde's brother Uncle Eli, Yechielle  - he loved your sensitive nature and how you sat and talked with him, and I loved the way you had patience and reminded me very much of my relationship with  Zayde when I was your age.

(Bean) – “little girl” – you are named after Grandpa G –who anytime his name was mentioned  Zayde said, he was such a nice man.  Zayde judged character – he knew when he liked someone – and your are someone who is special and sensitive to others' emotions.

(Puppy) – “gan eden" – you are named for the praise to god of having achieved the garden of eden, paradise – with four healthy children. You are the youngest of all of  Zayde's 8 great grandchildren. What paradise  Zayde was able to achieve – a loving beautiful wife of 63 years, 5 wonderful children,– 11 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

My wish for my children is that you remember the relationship you had with your  Zayde – and that you strive each day to be the best person, friend and family member you can be.

May we all live healthy long lives full joy, knowledge and compassion – living life to it’s fullest.