I loved to hear Pop Pop play the piano. When we were young, it was the Mexican Hat Dance. I remember exactly how he would laugh as we squeeled with glee and ran in circles around him. But it was as I grew up, and would come home from school on Tuesday afternoons, that I began to cherish the relaxed, improvised jazz that filled the house…that comfortable, tranquil lilt that so embodied the Pop Pop we loved to be around.
There was so much to his long life that we, as grandchildren, never knew but through photographs…of juke boxes and grand pianos, underground nightclubs and jazz stars…so much exoticness and glamour and excitement, from Atlantic City to the South Pacific. In every shot he has a brilliant, happy smile. And it fits, because if there is one word that describes the Pop Pop we know, it is contentment. Happy to sit for hours and hours in a rolling chair on the boardwalk, listening to ocean and the jazz music he so loved in his headphones, a white miniature poodle in his lap. Or on the couch at Thanksgiving watching football, just watching the chaos ensue around him. After all he’d experienced in his life, he was happy to fly below the radar.
I am so grateful to my sweet Pop Pop for giving me the gift of my education, for the countless dinners and ice shows and shopping sprees and giant bags of Hanukkah presents, that when I was young never even knew how I took it all for granted. I am much more grateful for all of the times I got to walk inside and see him happily sitting at is computer or in his chair, watching CNN or checking his stocks, looking up, breaking into a smile and saying “How’s my Sweetheart?” I am most grateful that he knew how much I loved him.
It’s hard to imagine everything Pop Pop saw during his life…the evolution of technology and human beings’ way of life that he experienced over his 96 years is mind-boggling. And he got to have the best of it all, and I have to believe that he knew it. That he knew how lucky he was and that he had earned it and that he was enjoying every drop.
We are incredibly lucky to have had someone in our lives for so very long, that we loved so very much, that it causes us to feel such heartbreak and loss. But Pop Pop had a beautiful life, and we must always celebrate it.
I love you Pop Pop and will make sure to have a Johnny Walker Red for you every once in a while. I hope you are resting easy on that A Train.