Today I am moving into my dorm. I have dinner in the dining hall and orientation all weekend. It sounds so ridiculous. A flashback to 2007 when I first moved into my dorm at Pitzer. Right now I wish I could move backwards in time to 2007 or 1997 because this morning I am sitting in the back yard of my grandparents’ house and I miss my grandpa.
For the past (almost) three years I have done a fantastic job of coping with his death in typical spear fashion. I kinda just pretended it never happened. I missed him in the same way that I always missed him. When there is an entire country between yourself and the essence of the person you are grieving it is easy to circumvent the grief. Sure we didn’t talk on the phone once a week, but that had stopped after he had his stroke in 2009. I never came back here after the funeral and I never truly let myself grieve.
But, fate doesn’t entertain alternate reality forever. So here I am. Sitting on the bridge over the brook in the backyard of the house that was once my grandparents’ is now my grandma’s and will soon belong to a stranger. I am glad to come back before the buyer moves in and I am sure I will be back again later this summer.
I managed two mornings here without eating eggs or really much breakfast at all. If my grandpa were here that would be unacceptable. He would have asked what I wanted for breakfast (standard answer: coffee or nothing) and proceeded to ignore my response making me fried eggs, tasty-wasties (potatoes) toast and juice. He, of course, would have eaten hours before his west coast granddaughter but would still sit with me making sure I ate it all an making me laugh. He never would have let me sleep until noon anyway.
I have a million stories of his humor (the title of this post being how he started all stories about his childhood), and kindness and love. But what I really want to share, and what I miss most of all is his gift for accepting people for who they were and loving them.
My grandfather is one of the only people I have had the honor of meeting who never tried to make me anything other than who I was right at that minute. He loved me for exactly who I was right then, no expectations, no pressure. A gift to a misfit. A gift to anyone who is growing up and changing. It is a gift that I can hopefully give to my grandchildren. (my children will be pushed and pressured, cause that is the job of the parent :D)
Everyone should be so blessed to know a true Tzadik. I did. He was my grandfather.
Howard Arbetter z”l