Sunday, August 23, 2009

In Memory of My Zaidy

Tonight is my grandfather's tenth anniversary. I was really young when he died, just ten years old. My family lived very close to him, so emotionally, we were the closest to him of all his grandchildren. But I will always regret the fact that I never had the opportunity to have an adult relationship with him. I speak to my older cousins, and they remember him so much more than I do. All my memories are of him helping me do my homework (often wrong, but that was OK), teaching me math tricks, playing with me. Just being the best zaidy that any child ever asked for. All my friends were jealous of me for having the best zaidy who carried candy in his pockets to give to the kinderlach. Even now, ten years later, my friends remember him.

My zaidy came to America in the 20's when he was three years old. He grew up in a hard economic time when jobs were scarce. It was a time of people saying "Shver tzu zein a yid" (It's hard to be a Jew). And it was hard. Many parents gave up and worked on Shabbos just to feed their families. My grandfather, however, didn't. He kept Shabbos like few did. There were so many weeks that he would find a job on Sunday only to lose it again by the following Sunday. But he never gave in.

He finally found a job as a postal worker making special deliveries. He was able to work out his schedule that he didn't have to work on Shabbos. Even though he had a steady job, he had many mouths to feed and money was tight. One time, he had to be disciplined for some reason and stood to lose pay for hours of work. His boss didn't want to punish my zaidy, so he (the boss) suggested that he put my grandfather down as having worked on Saturday (even though he didn't) and take away the pay from those hours. My grandfather refused. He didn't even want it on his record that he could have chas v'shalom worked on a Shabbos.

He was a great man.

He opened up his home to everyone who knocked. When my other grandfather needed a place to stay after being discharged from the hospital, my zaidy didn't even hesitate to let him stay with him for six months. I always felt like I had two houses: mine and my grandparents.

Like the singer of this song, my zaidy died suddenly while I was in camp. It was my first time away from home, and I missed my cousin's wedding. On the way home from the wedding, Zaidy's car crashed, and he was killed instantly. I came home for the levaya (funeral).

My father made a big siyum for Zaidy's third yahertzeit (anniversary of death). I was in camp again, but this time I didn't come back to the city. I wrote this poem to be my representative. I've been told that my father broke down in tears as he read it. [Looking back, it doesn't seem like such amazing poetry, but a. I was thirteen and b. the feeling is there anyway.]

As the anniversary of his death draws near
His memory chokes my heart and makes me tear
He was my moon by night, my sun by day
And all of a sudden he went away
His laughter no more will ring in my ears
And that in itself brings down my tears
I remember my sister aloft on his knee
I remember how I loved it when he played with me.
He was my idol with his strength and might
For his face always shone with golden light.
He taught me math and tricks galore.
Now I only wish he had taught me more.
I miss him by day and I miss him by night
While I mourn the cruelty of his plight.
I didn't realize how precious he was to me
Until he died; now the rest is history.
I loved him all I could with my little heart,
Even after Hashem called him to depart.
As years go by, his memory grows hazy,
But I remember he was never lazy.
When he was younger he had to work for a job.
Now, the people he helped should come in a mob.
During this time, these memories flit through my mind.
But days go by and they are harder to find.
I cry and cry as I remember,
My grief is like a burning ember

I only hope that I can live up to his memory and grow into a granddaughter he would be proud of.

לעלוי נשמת אברהם בן משה יחיאל

2 comments:

Lvnsm27 said...

sounds like a very great man BH

It's such a gift to have someone like that in your life, at least for a while.

itsagift said...

Wow - he sounds really special! It's hard to lose someone so close and feel so distant because you didn't get to know him because you were young when he passed away...I'm sure the comfort is when you hear all these amazing stories from your family memebers who remember much more about him!

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