Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Great Grandpa

Dear Boys,

This week your Great Grandpa, Pa-Pa's Dad-E, celebrated his 98th birthday! He's truly 98 years young. He carries a cell phone, likes some of Lewis Black's sketch comedy, has done calesthenics almost every morning of his life, stays up past his bedtime to watch major sporting events, and remembers everything he reads in the newspaper.

I think the secret to my grandpa's long-life, in addition to his faith and a wonderful marriage, is that's he's been perpetually busy. He always has some task to accomplish every day, and that helps keep him going.

He and Great Grandma, who herself turns 97 this year, are hanging in there.

In the past few years, they've certainly "declined" some, but only physically. (Mentally, they could still run circles around many folks half their age.)

They've adjusted to this physical decline as gracefully as possible. They recently moved to a new location within their assisted-living facility. This new apartment offers assistance 24/7 upon their request. This arrangement respects their independence, but means that help is only the press of a button away.

This spring, Great Grandpa and Grandma will celebrate their 75th (yes, seventy-fifth) wedding anniversary. Two years ago, boys, I wrote you this letter about their marriage, and I'm certainnot sure I could express my sentiments about their relationship any better, so I won't try to do so.

What is new since that letter, is that around Thanksgiving time our family made the long sojourn and back to visit them. This was the first time that Great Grandpa and Grandma got to meet Bab-E Brother in person.

It's been very important to me that each of you got to meet your great grandparents (an opportunity I never had). Big Brother and Little Brother should both have some formed memories of them, and I hope Bab-E Brother will, too. We also have lots of pictures and video of our visits with them.

During this last visit, Great Grandpa and Grandma were in the process of "down-sizing", in preparation for the move to the new apartment.

And they had a gift for each of you from their apartment, something I hope you'll always hold on to, something that embodies the importance of family, of your "history".

Big Brother was given Great Grandpa's model red VW Bug, a perfect gift for our budding builder/engineer. Big Brother, you have been obsessed with that car since the first time you visited their apartment and could talk (I think you were around 2). Great Grandpa always wanted a VW Bug, and Great Grandma told him that the model was as close as he'd get to a real one. May that car remind you to always have dreams and goals, and to work tenaciously towards them.

Little Brother was given a music box. I hope you come to enjoy the beauty and power of music and creative expression. As you listen to it's tune, may it conjure sweet memories of times with family. And throughout your life, may you continue to dance and express yourself without inhibition, as you and Big Brother so often do in our living room.

Bab-E Brother was given a Pound Puppy. Dogs are loyal, constant companions. Growing up 5 minutes away from my grandparents, their presence (and enthusiasm) at all of my activities was evidence of their loyalty to family. I am grateful to have had their close support. Bab-E Brother, may the puppy provide you comfort, and remind you of the importance of unwaivering support of your family.

Great Grandma and Grandpa gave me a glass candy dish, which I now keep in my office at work. I remember that it always used to be filled with candy, and this was always a treat when visiting them. May it remind me to always savor the sweetness of life and family.

I leave you with one funny story about Great Grandpa:
Their apartment is always UNGODLY HOT. At first, when you get there, you don't notice the heat, probably because it feels good to get out of the cold. But eventually, gradually, the heat starts to creep up on you. You feel a little flushed, you even get a little sweaty. The kids start to run wild through the apartment get a little restless, which only generates more heat. Your body feels like you're in a slow cooker that's just about to reach a low boil. (Probably because they keep the thermostat set at about 95).

Eventually, you can't stand the heat. You want to stay to visit with them, but you're afraid someone's going to melt, or the kids are going to meltdown at the very least. About 2 minutes before this happens, Great Grandpa will ask Great Grandma, "Is it a little hot in here? Should we turn the thermostat down?" Every time.

"No, that's okay" we always reply politely. We were just about to leave this coal mine anyway.

You hug and kiss them goodbye. And the moment you step outside brings the most wonderful relief. Like Darth Vader had you in a subtle choke-hold using the force, and finally loosened his grip.

Oh well, when you're 98 and 96, you can keep your apartment as hot as you want.

Happy Birthday, Great-Grandpa! On your 98th brithday, we celebrate you and your long, life. You are an inspiration to us all!



  1. Thank you for sharing....I always love hearing updates about them. Its such a beautiful and sweet love story. I am so happy that you are able to share and capture in video such wonderful moments with them and your sons. Rosi

  2. Beautiful tribute to your grandparents. They are such an inspiration, and what lovely gifts they gave to you and the boys.