Friday, August 13, 2010


When you lose someone, anyone, it's never an easy thing.  My grandmother recently passed away and I have been stuck here in Korea.  I tried to get home but even the earliest, most expensive flight, wouldn't have gotten me home in time for the funeral.  I wished money didn't rule my choices as much as it does.  It was really hard the first day I heard, but like any pain, it gets easier and less painful every day after. 

She was a holocaust survivor.  The last person in my family that bore that proud title.  Losing a piece of history makes her passing even harder on the living.  I would like to think she is somewhere better or more peaceful.  We will all eventually find out.

The only thing that made me feel better is being able to write something for my father to read at her funeral.  I'll end this post with that eulogy:

I regret that I've missed so much since I've been out here, but most of all I regret not being able to be in this room with all of you, for possibly the saddest reason.  We tried to get a flight for me but there wasn't anything, and it pains me to even have to make an excuse.  If you knew my grandma you know that she had one of the toughest lives possible.  Tougher than any of us want to imagine.  But, she found love after hate, and created her own family for her to play her part in.  Two generations later she because the Jewish Grandmother.  Her job description was simple.  Be the target of my Poppi's jokes, make chicken soup and all our favorite foods, and all the while, do it with love and affection.  No matter how mean the jokes got, or how messy the apartment was, or how much I played with her soft, saggy, old lady skin on the underside of her arm...when we caught her eye she smiled. She would never even sit down to eat the dinner she cooked because she worried that we wouldn't enjoy the food, or not have enough of it...which was never the case. 

She had so much love and so much pride from her grandchildren.  Even something as mundane as sitting at her old plexi glass table, she would always grab my hand and kiss it.  She would grab my face and kiss my cheek if it was within her grasp.  After my Poppi died she closed up.  The phone calls got even shorter than the regular 1 minute "how are you, I'm fine, O.K I love you" ones, and she shrunk into herself and her grief.  It was another dark chapter in her life.  But the last few years, after my brother finished his book about my grandparents holocaust story, she brightened up.  It's like her protective shell cracked and the light flooded through again.  I remember the first phone call we had after that.  We must have talked for 10 minutes.  I think that was an all time record.  She lived the last couple of years of her life as content as she could have been, and that thought makes me as content as I can be. 

Some Memories:

I will miss her answering machine messages.  Especially when they were first invented.  My family and I would go on vacation and each time we came home there would be about 10 messages all starting the same way.  "Sam???  Hello???  Are you there??? Noah??? Hello???"  and then ending in various ways.  My favorite ending was always "O.k, leave me alone god damn it." *click*. She just didn't get it.

I will miss her Leon necklace and the donation can on her plexi glass table.

I will miss being shtooped money for no reason other than being her grandson.

I will miss the family get-togethers at her apartment.

I will miss being asked if I want to eat again 10 minutes after we ate dinner, and then 10 minutes again after she asked me if I wanted to eat the last time.

I will miss being pined over and all the funny stories about what she did this time and who she offended.

I will miss her incredibly crooked signatures on my birthday cards because her hand wouldn't stop shaking when she signed them.

I will miss her strength.

I will miss her. 

Her story has been written down and will live on in myself and my family.  We all learned something from her in one way or another, and my family's future generations will learn too.  That thought comforts me.