Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Love Letter for Zaidy

I'd like to introduce you to my father's father. He's 94 years old. He has a full head of wavy white hair, kind of like Einstein, and crazy eyebrows to match.

Be careful when you shake his hand. He might look frail, lying there on the couch, but he can still just about break your fingers with his vise-like grip. That's the kind of tough-ass he's always been. I recently had lunch with him in the assisted-living facility where he lives with my grandmother. He started a silverware duel with the guy sitting next to him. I've never seen anything quite like it: two elderly men shouting "En garde!" and fencing with their forks.

When I was a kid, he used to flip his eyelids inside out just to give me the creeps. Then he'd grab me by one wrist and one ankle and spin me around for a helicopter ride.

My grandfather is the fifth of eight children, born to parents who had recently immigrated from Poland. They lived downtown in the Jewish ghetto, raising chickens for a living. My grandfather used to get up at 3:00 am in order to kill, pluck, and deliver fresh chickens around the neighbourhood before he went to school. He could pluck a bird so fast that he was declared a Champion Chicken Flicker.

In three more months, if he hangs in there, the Champion Chicken Flicker will turn 95. I'm thrilled to have him around. Because even though we can't really have much of a conversation, (he can't remember what he said 30 seconds ago), he can still get my hand in that killer grip of his, look right into me with his ice-blue eyes, and tell me that he loves me. And I tell him that I love him too. Then he says "I'll miss you when I'm gone". And I tell him that I'll miss him too. But secretly I believe that we'll meet again. When it's my turn to walk through the Pearly Gates, I bet he'll be right there to greet me, grinning, with his eyelids flipped inside-out. (And then he'll give me a helicopter ride.)

1 comment:

jameil1922 said...

i love this!!!!!!!! shouting "En garde!" and fencing with their forks is so gonna be me! :)