Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Grammy R's Eulogy

Here's to you, Grammy.

You always think you have more time. Time to listen to the stories once more, time to record them. Time to relax into the moment and not yada yada yada, get on with it we've heard this one a thousand times already.

Here's what I had the great privilege to say at Grammy R's funeral last week:

Grammy is the stuff of legends. Every one of you is thinking of ten things or a hundred things she said to you that no one else would have ever said to you. Every day of her life she was full-on, unfiltered Grammy. But if someone's last name wasn’t the same as hers... Watch out. They'd need to go through her to get to one of us. She was our staunchest ally.

There are 3 pillars of Grammy. Three overriding themes that she could weave into every statement, story or conversation. Grammy was a master at staying on message.

#1 - Ample kvelling - She might get up in your business one-on-one, but out of doors, if Grammy had anything to do with it— we’re all pretty amazing. She wasted no opportunity to squeeze in a little one-upsmanship, or let everyone know about the vast successes we may or may not have achieved, our championship trophies, her talented great-grandchildren who are smart and beautiful and occasionally mischievous young sprouts.

#2 - A flexible view on facts. Grammy had an unsurpassed ability to add and subtract and rearrange the facts to her liking. It was truly a gift. 

#3 - Grammy could hold a grudge. You cause offense to her or her family and she won’t forget it. She had a mind like a steel trap and sixty years later she could tell you all the details leading up to the slight.

I was looking thru a pile of papers yesterday, trying to find something to talk about today. And I stumbled across a note I took… she told me a story (again) and this time I ran home and typed it out. But I want to retell this story, because it perfectly exemplifies all three pillars of grammy. I can hear her voice, that thick Bronx accent that just would not soften no matter how long she lived out of state.

The whole thing was over a dog - there was a lost dog. It was Fred (your father) and Frankie Latino and Stevie Schlackman. They got a reward for finding the dog. $3. Stevie wouldn’t give the other two any of the money. So Fred and Frankie beat him up.

I get a call from the school principal, Mrs. Bloom. It seems that the mother, Stevie’s mother, made a complaint that Fred beat up Stevie. And Fred didn’t even beat Stevie up at the school, he beat him up in front of our house. This Mrs. Bloom, she was a bigot.

So I go to the school. Mrs Bloom the principal gets out the boys' report cards. She says, "I don’t understand how Fred beat up such a smart boy. "

She pulls out Fred’s report card. "Oh, Fred is a very smart boy... Well. He can go home."
And I understand Stevie Schlakman turned out to be a nothing. Frankie is a doctor. Just like your father. 

Rosetta, Stevie’s mother, she was a good friend of mine. I never spoke with her again, her doing something like this.

1,2,3. Grammy hit all her points as efficiently as always. She dedicated her entire life to us.
Thank you for everything, Grammy.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Skiing in -14 sub-freezing antarctic conditions

I knew I wasn’t in the city anymore. Not only because it’s -14 up here in VT where we’re skiing, but because I saw a dog jogging up a snow-covered road. Just nonchalantly headed wherever he was going. WITHOUT BOOTIES. 

Skiing in -14 requires some wardrobe tricks which I haven’t quite figured out yet. 
  • I get the part where you open up 7 sets of hand-warmers and strategically line your long underwear with them. 
  • Then there's the part where you smear of this greasy stuff on your nose that’s allegedly supposed to prevent frostbite.
  • Last comes the real battle: how to not lose your nose to frostbite while not fogging up your glasses. If you cover your nose, your glasses fog up. If you don’t cover your nose, you can’t feel your face after about 8 minutes but at least you can see where you’re going. It’s a tough choice. You can avoid this dilemma by remembering to pack contact lenses.

Pop forewent the glasses. We were standing at the bottom of a hill waiting for him and whooosh- he blows past. At an odd angle. “You would not believe it! My eyelashes froze together and I couldn’t see anything!"

One further note: If you’re not going to wear glasses, stick a hand-warmer in your hat or something so your eyes don’t freeze shut.

Dave L said he was skiing along and passed a guy. This is a big deal because Dave never passes anybody. So he was feeling pretty good— maybe sub-freezing temperatures are his special competitive advantage. Somewhere along the way, the guy catches up to Dave and mentions he had outpatient surgery yesterday. This dimmed the achievement somewhat, Dave said. 

On the way back from VT, we met up with Michelle and David for brunch. They had just come back from dog sledding. Those dogs didn’t have booties either. Or little sweaters. I saw the pictures to prove it.