Wednesday, May 21, 2008

R.I.P. Pa

My grandfather died yesterday at 2 PM. He was a stunningly important figure in my life, even as we spent less and less time together. I've been in a fog since I heard yesterday and I wanted to write down some lessons I learned from him and post them here as a way to memorialize my relationship with him. As the now eldest male on my side of the family (both grandfathers and my dad have all passed), the world ahead looks strange. It's a perspective I think better left for later in life. But as with all things, I'll find a way through it all.

My grandfather, known as "Pa" (not pawwww, I'm from NY, not Tennessee) was a pretty amazing guy in many ways. Pa had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. He had a slicing, mean streak in him too and his sense of humor could be biting for sure. I always appreciated it for what it was - a true ability to see something and then laugh at it. It is still something I want to be able to do more readily.

Pa was a salesman in both the "sell ice to an eskimo" Zig Ziglar way and in the sad Willy Loman way. Later in life, he sold trinkets and goods on the streets of NYC. It never seemed like he was telling the truth until one day we actually saw him in midtown Manhatten. He was holding court, sitting on a chair smiling and talking to everyone and anyone. When he noticed us, his face lit up and he immediately started to introduce us to everyone and tried to give us stuff off the tables. He practically forced the pretzel guy to hand over his goods. He was so generous with me. When I was a child, he would never come with 1 present - it had to be a dozen or it just didn't seem like enough to him. I wish I was more generous of spirit. It's a lesson I'm managing to miss more often than not.

He also taught me in an unintentional way to be very open and accepting of people. I always hated how he seemed to be a real life parody of Archie Bunker and even at a very young age, I can remember rejecting that perspective. It's funny (and a little sad) that this was so. But it was what it was - and in the end, I'm better off for it.

I am sure the fog will lift eventually and life will go back to the daily grind, the rush and blogging, twittering and work. For now though, I just feel like sitting quietly by myself.

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