28 July 2006

my papa - photobooth friday

a young papa

this past weekend we had a memorial for my grandfather. when my grandma pulled out the above photo i knew andrea would flip out, and that i'd have to post it for photobooth friday.

my mind has been flooded with memories of my grandfather and i have been thinking about what i wanted to say about him. i re-read something that i wrote last year and i don't think i can really do any better. it was too hard and too raw to post it last year - but i think i'm willing to share it now... so..... here goes:

In one of those very weird twists of life – I started writing this remembrance of papa on the day that he died… while I was riding the bus. Apparently he had died just a few hours before, but I wouldn’t know that until 6pm that night.

There once was a little girl who was much more quiet and shy than she is now. She used to love to spend time with her papa (she was responsible for the name – couldn’t say grandpa when she started talking). They would often ride around LA in his car (the most memorable one ~ a brown Celica). In the car were punch label signs in red about wear your seatbelt, the alternative is deadly (oh how he loved to label! Everything had his name inked {what did he do before sharpies??} or engraved into it: S.S., Sid Solomon, Sidney, King Sol). He would sing her songs about red being on top – it means stop stop stop, green below means go, go, go, yellow in the middle means wait a little… He would teach her how mispronounce (but accurately spell) Sepulveda (SEP-HUL-VEEDA), aluminum (AL-YOO-MIN-E-UM), cinnamon (SIN-A-MUM-MUM-MUM).

They would drive to get secrets (shhh – code word for donut – his favorite was jelly, she didn’t have a favorite). He would let her be the ball girl at some of his tennis games. He once took her to kid’s theatre (this was normally Grammy’s job) and fell asleep snoring LOUDLY… she elbowed him in the ribs to wake him and would forever joke that he couldn’t take her to anything unless he promised not to fall asleep. He took her sailing on his boat. He tied her in knots (he was so strong. Strong and Proud). He’d let her win in gin rummy (but not too often). They’d play black jack for pennies. He shot pool with her (this is how you put English on the ball). Any game that made you think was good. He loved coming up with puzzles for her to solve (can you draw this picture only lifting your pen 3 times? More recently he was captivated as she tried to figure out how many 5 1/4” felt tanks she would need to cover a 12’ x 12’ wall – how big of a space do you want between them? What kind of pattern are you making? How are you adhering them?)

She would watch as he fixed things – why buy a new one when you can fix this one? If you can take it apart you can put it back together. Why pay someone when you can do it yourself? He taught her so well that she can now fix things. One of his favorite tools was the rubber band. Big ones. Almost anything could be made better with a rubber band – your wallet, your lamp (because you could use a rubber band to attach an old medicine bottle to it – to hold pens of course!), your key ring, you could keep all your bills/important papers together (who needs a filing cabinet?)…

He told good stories about the Navy. He told good stories in general. So good she couldn’t believe them (unless she got the nod of yes from Grammy, or until she got old enough to tell them right back). He once tried to convince her that Smirnoff the vodka was really called Smirtorchnoff because they were using a picture of a torch for an “i” in their ad campaign… Smirtorchnoff was just too long to fit on the billboard. He was quick witted and sharp tongued (traits she also found and loves in her husband). He was a character – if you met him he wanted you to remember him…. Because of what he said (he could talk about almost anything), because of how he acted (he demanded and gave respect), because of his talking watch, because of the butterscotch he gave you…. Just remember. He loved catch phrases (his or anyone’s): if I’m up everybody’s up, how’s the baby (his tummy), pretty good chicken mom, show and tell time, let’s go to YOUR favorite restaurant (which was Changs – and it was his, not anyone else’s), humph harrumph humph (your head must be tilting back and forth while you say this. And you must be the last one to humph)…

As the little girl grew older in many ways her papa grew younger…. He needed much more help with things as he couldn’t see or hear so well. She laughed as he couldn’t believe she could run so many errands in an hour, or move his computer monitor on her own (it’s too heavy!). She was quite pleased that he would allow her to help him. Recently she cut chicken for him while they were out at dinner. He wasn’t going to admit that he couldn’t see or cut the meat and thus she tried to do it on the sly so that he wouldn’t be embarrassed. He always seemed to enjoy kibitzing with her – and she was glad to give Grammy a bit of a break (he could be quite demanding of her if not anyone else!)

Although she is quite sad that she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, she is grateful that he was such a big part of her life. She has so many good memories of time spent with her papa. She was and always will be his #1 granddaughter. She always felt like she was #1 with him. She knows she just has to think of him for him to be with her.

Papa I will miss your wet kisses and big hugs…

have a great weekend i'll be back with drawings on monday....

26 comments:

wendy said...

lisa this is so very beautiful...what a wonderful man, and what a lucky little girl to have him in your life. love love!
tears at work...it is a beautiful telling.

eireann said...

Thank you for putting this up for us to read, Lisa. Sorry for your loss. He must have been a lovely man.

Alyssa said...

What a lovely man and lovely story. It gave me goose bumps and made me teary-eyed.

Abigail said...

...welling up....

You are so lucky to have had each other, that's something that never ends...

Big hugs to you, xox

Ky said...

beautiful words, lisa

briana said...

That's so beautiful Lisa and I am so deaply touched... and so strange as I've been writing a piece on my Grandfather this week. Different inspiration but... ahh.

dani said...

what a gorgeous man in so many ways!!!! great photo. your stories are so sweet, thank you for sharing them.

amanda said...

I'm so touched by your lovely, remembering words, Lisa. The tears are streaming as I read about your Papa, who was as lucky to have you as you were him. Both of my grandfathers passed away last year--I think of them often, and so fondly. It's such a special relationship--grandparents. I'm very sorry for your loss.

blair said...

thanks for sharing Lisa, this is a beautiful story.

Nicole said...

Hey Lisa, gorgeous stories, thank you for sharing them.

joy madison said...

I love your papa stories. They are something that drew me to your blog many moons ago! Thanks for telling them!

shash said...

oh, crying a lot now. such a beautiful tribute and such vivid memories. thank you for sharing this. it's wonderful and sweet and loving. i'm thinking of the perfect pic you posted of you and he at your wedding as i read this...
shash

bugheart said...

i never knew
my grandparents-
they all died when
i was very young
so i love stories
about grandparents.
i swear i got
all teary-eyed
reading
your story!
it was so beautiful
and
your papa sounds
like the grandpa
i wished
i knew...
wonderful
to have
memories
and momentos-
even though
it is so painful
to lose
someone
you love
so dearly.
xoxox

abby said...

best post ever

sarah said...

lisa thank-you for sharing this amazing tribute with us, so beautiful to see and read about such a special person xxx

andrea said...

oh lisa. so beautiful. all of it-- the (absolutely stunning) photobooth snapshot, your words. I am in love with how raw and full of love this is, how gorgeous the details are. I want to know him and in a way, I feel like I do. thank you for sharing him. it's good for the world--that kind of love, that kind of life.

(yes, I did flip out when I first saw the photo) xo

vegasandvenice said...

Oh darling lisa,
This is so beautifully written that I feel as though I know your papa and now I miss him too. I regret that I did not have a chance to know such an amazing person. I feel blessed that I know you.
Hugs and All my Love.

louise said...

Hi Lisa,

Lovely story thanks for sharing it with everyone. I was very close to my grandfather as well, I have very special memories of him that I will always hold dear. How lucky we were to have had great pops.

Cheers, Louise

nichola said...

what a lovely story and what a handsome man he was.

Shari said...

lisa,
i cannot tell you how much i enjoyed reading this. so very beautiful. i am happy that you have these wonderful memories to carry around with you always. sending love, shari

maditi said...

lisa, I´m so sorry for your loss!!
ever since I saw "my grandfather the labeler" set on flickr I liked him very much. now after your beautiful words, I know he must have been a wonderful person!!!

poppy said...

i was doing fine till you started cutting his chicken, then i lost it! such sweet memories i can tell you cherish - thanks for sharing that - it was so special to read.

posy press said...

such a great account lisa...it really paints such a lovely picture of him. xo

anne said...

One of the dearest tributes I’ve ever read. I am deeply touched and moved, thank you so much for posting it. It’s obvious your Papa helped create the amazing woman you are today.

love and hugs, abee

lisa s said...

i can not express the gratitude i feel. it's very healing and wonderful to get such support and understanding from this community that i hold so dear to me. thank you to each of you for giving me the strength to post about such things [it sure is a lot easier with this type of response!!]

with love and so much fondness!!
xoxo lisa

Karen said...

Such a gorgeous post, Lisa. Thank you for opening your heart to us. Your papa was lucky to have you in his life and I am sure you've brought so much joy to him, as he did to you.

So hard to lose a loved one, because selfishly you want them with you forever and ever. I lost my Kong Kong (grandpa) to cancer so although I needed to let him go, I sort of didn't want to. But we always have memories...