It’s been three years since you left us, but in many respects, it still feels like yesterday. I still remember the lessons you taught me; how to be honest in business even when others aren’t, how to invest wisely and not squander money, how to build a family that loves and respects each other, despite their differences. For you, these dogmas were immutable, as they have become for me – etched into my mind through repetition and hard work, during your lifetime and in the years since.
Less clear in my mind than these lessons are the day to day memories we built together, the everyday experiences we didn’t harp on because we thought we’d always have time to experience again. I remember trips to the park and the pizza store, but not the mundane conversations we had during those outings. I remember your phone number, but I can’t remember what time you woke up or at what time it became too late to call.
Many of the memories I have of you are linked to the apartment that you lived in during your final years. I’ve been to that apartment hundreds of times since you left us, and each time I relished spending time in the place that you held so dear, and reliving our time together there. But now that apartment has been sold, and so we, the family you left behind, are moving on a most primal, physical level. It’s not a bad thing – I have a feeling you’d be happy with the decisions that were made, and proud of the way everyone worked together to get things done. You would have loved watching Mom and Malkie spend 10 hours a day together for two straight weeks, working together and maintaining the relationship you encouraged them to build, despite the fact that you weren’t there to make it happen. Perhaps you did get a kick out of it, wherever you are now.
It’s been a hard couple of weeks, both physically exhausting and emotionally draining for everyone in the family (for Mom and Malkie the most). In a very real way, saying goodbye to your apartment is like saying goodbye to you again. I thought I’d already bid my farewells; I didn’t realize how hard it would be to do it again even after so many years.
Not every immigrant is lucky enough to have their grandparents make the same transatlantic move, and we certainly didn’t take this gift for granted. I may not remember every conversation we ever had, but I’ll always remember the experiences we shared as well as the joy and meaning we all had because you lived so close by.
PS – Don’t worry about us too much - if we need a good dose of nostalgia, we will just hang out at Poppy’s park or “Poppy’s pizza store” – those places should be around for a long, long while