Grandpa had a capacity to see people deeply. He was aware of this and he perfected it. He saw your flaws and he saw your gifts. And he was not afraid to tell you all of it.
Grandpa was a source of strength for me – because he listened to me, and because he saw me, and because he spoke truth to me, and because he loved me just as I am. He encouraged me, and he expected things from me and somehow he convinced me that all of this was because of, and not in spite of who I am.
I don’t know how to hold on to that feeling of being accurately seen. I don’t know how to find the Truth I felt with him. Maybe I can’t have those things; maybe that is just one more part of losing Grandpa.
Grandpa had a remarkable capacity for love – the thing about his love, was that he loved what he saw – the defects and the strengths. He didn’t love me in spite of my stubbornness and perfectionism. He didn’t love me because I was his granddaughter or because I adored him. He loved me because of all of it wrapped up together.
He had learned something I strive for – a true acceptance of how human we are, and though he continued to try to change himself and those around him until he died, he also understood, we are what we are.
To see him with Alice taught me more about love. I know that he softened in his later years and he credited her with this many times. Alice taught me what love is, he said.”
He was expressive, appreciative and again, honest with her as he was with everyone. And he listened to her, full of his own opinion but willing to change at the drop of a hat, because he was listening and he knew, even though he was always right, sometimes he wasn’t.
Despite his rough edges, he really wanted to help and to love and he did that for me.
About three weeks ago Grandpa made me promise that I would continue to fearlessly and doggedly look at myself. I suppose he knew the end was near, and he thought to ask for a commitment from me. I told him I would, and I will.
We come together for weddings and for graduations, barmitzvah’s and for funerals. We come together when something really important — life changing happens. At a wedding we make commitments, at a graduation or a bar mitzvah, we are moving forward into a new phase of our adulthood, another kind of commitment. At a funeral we are faced with unimaginable loss and we will go our separate ways, and have our private grief.
But here is my thought, I will make a commitment today, like at a wedding, and since I don’t have grandpa here any more, this will be also a moment of moving forward into a new kind of adulthood. I will try to find what he gave me, inside myself.
In honor of grandpa, I will commit to take on the things I learned from him, I invite you to consider the same. Perhaps in this way I can experience some of the gifts he gave me, or in some small way share them with someone else.
Here are some of the things I learned from Grandpa:
Fearlessly and tirelessly examine yourself
Believe in what you know, and know it is not true
Enjoy your tea while it is hot
Indulge in any sweet offered to you – if you like it
Never keep a gift you don’t want
Tell the truth, know you might be lying
Cook with butter
Get outside if you are able, somewhere beautiful
If you can’t, make sure the view from your couch is nothing short of stunning
Surround yourself with friends be sure that some of them admire you
If they don’t charm them until they do
Be skeptical but try it anyway
Be your own harshest critic
Be your own greatest fan
Learn that love matters
Have meaningful conversations
Own your gifts
Know your limitations
Accept nothing less than what you asked for
Ask for what you want
Engage your mind, engage your mind, engage your mind
I will commit to owning my weaknesses and my strengths, to speak the truth, to listen well, and to change. Perhaps as I continue to grow, I will wisen as, Grandpa did, mellow with love, as Grandpa did, and be a friend and a confidant, a source of inspiration and of hope.
I will see and love deeply those around me and I will enjoy my tea while it is hot.