Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Final Goodbye to Grandpa

It is with great sadness that I report that my Grandfather has passed away. The obituary and details about shiva are found here. At 93.99 years old, he had a full life. He was a WWII veteran, small business owner, parent, Yiddish aficionado and probably a dozen other things. But to me, he was tied with my Grandpa Arnie for World's Best Grandpa. What an immense blessing I was given to have him in my life for so long.

When I think about Grandpa, these important lessons come to mind:

  • Having a default demeanor that's filled with warmth and kindness goes a long, long way.
  • When in doubt, tell a story.
  • Never ruin a good story with the truth.
  • Laughter is the second best medicine. Whiskey is the first.
  • True love isn't something you find only in books and movies. It's what he found in his wife (and my Grandma) of 65 years.
  • Change isn't the end. Whether it was starting up a number of different businesses; moving to Rochester relatively late in life; or dealing with macular degeneration; the one constant in life is change. And he navigated it all.
  • It's OK to need a push in life from those who love us. All that navigation he did in the change I just mentioned? He got help (way to go, Mom!), but in the end, embraced it.
  • Family is priority #1. Embrace the one you have, quirks and all.

We lost a good soul with the passing of my Grandpa. He will be greatly missed.

Update: Here's the Eulogy my Dad gave for my Grandpa:

Lately. I have been thinking about the commandment to "Honor your Father and Mother"

When you are very young;

You really don't know there is such a requirement - what you do know is that the love and warmth you do receive is clearly unconditional - In the beginning, in spite of your crying which makes tired parents even more tired and in spite of making awful messes. Later when I failed science because I procrastinated and didn't do my "Fish Notebook".

I remember snippets from this time:

That I never received a potch from the "old man", or for that matter hearing the phrase "Wait till your father gets home".

That I learned early not to eat all the gribinous before he came home.

That my dad was not a reader - in fact I can't remember ever seeing him spending time with a book Yet, I remember one almost miraculous night - where the whole family lay on my parents bed and dad read out loud in an accented voice from "The Education of Hyman Kaplan".

And through this time:

I don't think I told him how much I loved him and appreciated everything he did.

When you are 13 and now actually have mitzvah of honoring you parents like to perform - I was still not much better at doing it. And this in spite of the fact that the love of my parents and their sacrifice was so much more obvious.

I didn't see my father a lot - he worked hard - 6 days a week.

And when he did come home he was tired and we didn't do those father-son things that take up much of children's times today like baseball and soccer..

My Mom and Dad didn't take a lot of vacations, but I had everything I needed

And when I become the first to go to college, finances are never a consideration

Two more recollections from this period


The Green Plymouth with the big fins. My father loved cars. He loved to drive, and every time he looked - he bought. I remember cold winter nights where he would go out late to start his car and warm the engine (even covering it with a blanket) so it would start in the morning.

He was a man who was not afraid to do new things and take chances.

He opened a clothing store "Marilyn's" on the south side of Chicago.

He took a correspondence course to learn to repair Watches - and because he was very good with his hands and patient even after his full days work, he learned quickly. The pantry at home became a watch repair station. And later he even owned a Jewelry Store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago for a short time.

And yet through this time:

I don't think I told him how much I loved him and appreciated everything he did.

And then like so many young people - I went away to have an Education, Career, Marriage

And the opportunities to honor my father and mother become sporadic.

There were Phone calls

Brief visits back home

Celebrations of Life events in MY new life - babies, bar mitzvahs and, birthdays.

This was a long period of time - in my case almost 30 years. And so for this part of my fathers life I only have some stories, pictures and reminiscences of what was for him was the best of times. He was making very good money selling boots to the Navy and it was just my dad and my mother.

My parents took cruises with their good friends Micky and Mel and Madge. If you asked my father, he had seen the world and "been there"

After his retirement from sales, my mom insisted he do something to get out of the house. He become "Father Tyme" Opened his first really successful store. He traveled to buy broken clocks, which he then fixed and sold.

Winters in Florida. Golf, eating at the "Pastrami Club", and sitting around the pool with good friends for hours in the afternoon before going out to eat again at the "early bird special".

And while all this is going on he recovered from many medical challenges. He healed quickly.

And yet through this time as well:

I don't think I really told him how much I loved him and appreciated everything he did.

But then the Mel dies, Micky moves away and Madge passes on - and my parents ties to Chicago grow weak.

And they come to Rochester 15 years ago -

They say they came to see the kids grow up - of course the kids had already grown up and left town

I think they came because they knew that you can't age successfully if you are without a support network - family and friends. And you need a person with caregiver in their soul like my incredible wife.

It was a wonderful reappearance of my parents - and so the 5th commandment came to the front and center.

And what a time they had here

Many of you know my parents from this time so I don't have to say much except that:

My Father aged sweetly

He loved the people around him

He loved a good martini - and the bar at the Kochman wedding was for him the dream of a lifetime

He reveled in telling stories in English and Yiddish

He especially appreciated women - and found their conversations far more interesting then anything men ever had to talk about.

And this time, especially after my mother passed away 6 years ago I had many opportunities to tell him how much I loved him and appreciated everything he did.

Finally, it struck me a couple days ago that the commandment to honor your father and mother is maintained even when your parents are no longer here.

Certainly the 7 days, 30 days and first year after their passing. In these times it is all about them and reliving the honor they deserve.

But it continues.

At the yartzeit

Every time we say yischor

As you tell your own children and their children about where they came from and who both directly and indirectly influenced them.

And finally in the way you carry out your OWN life - for surely you are their agents here on Earth when they are no longer here, just as your children and the people you influence will be your agents on Earth when the time comes.

93 years 363 days - it was a good life, an interesting life, an important life, and one which sends out ripples that will influence us all for generations to come.

And here's an article published about my Grandpa:


  1. I miss him already. I love him as if he were my own Grandpa, and he surely treated me (and Shmuel and the kids) as if he were. At least now he and Daddy can go back to having their Tuesday lunches up in heaven together. Maybe it'll be easier to solve the problems of the world from up there.

  2. Elana -

    I had forgotten about your Dad and My Grandpa's lunches! That's right, they were two peas in a pod.

    Thanks for the kind words, I'll be delighted to pass them on to my parents who will get a big kick out of them.