Hannah's Bat Mitzvah
Jessica's Bat Mitzvah
October 17, 2004
Hi, I'm Rachel, Paul, Papa's, oldest granddaughter. On behalf of Adina, Jessie, Hannah, and myself, I would like to thank everyone who shared his or her memories of our Papa. Please continue to share memories with us after the service, since we enjoy hearing about Papa's love and humor, and we especially enjoy hearing about his relationships with his close family and friends. Papa taught us the value of relationships with other people, and I would now like to talk a little bit about my own relationship with Papa.
Towards the end of high school I realized that Papa was pretty sick, yet my mother wasn't giving me very detailed updates about his health. Since Papa lived in Florida at the time, I decided that the best thing to do was to talk to him on the phone and find out how he was doing from Papa himself. Papa was more than happy to oblige.
When I left for college I began calling him several times a week, and he would tell me about his doctor visits, his red blood cell counts, his white blood cell counts, and how he felt. If I were not there to answer the phone when he would call me, he would give my roommates updates instead. One time I returned to my dorm room during my freshman year and my roommate told me that Papa had called. "How's he doing?" I asked her. "Well, his red and white counts are good," she told me. As much as he refused to burden other people with his problems, Papa was also not one to keep things to himself.
I didn't just talk to Papa for the blood cell reports, however. He was one of the funniest people I knew, and had an amazing ability to make me laugh hysterically and feel loved absolutely at the same time. School was 722 miles from home, and even though I didn't realize it at the time, living in Michigan on my own was a huge adjustment for the first couple years. I looked forward to talking to Papa, and often felt closer to him than to anyone at school. I would tell Papa about things that happened to me at school, and he would tell me stories about Grandma and my mom and Uncle Gary, as well as remind me of things that I had told him when I was much younger. I didn't like to go too many days without speaking to him, and even brought a cell phone with me so that I could continue to talk to Papa daily when I went on a week-long bike trip through Western Michigan. Though I don't usually like pictures of myself, one of my favorite photographs is one that I had someone take of me sitting on a log along the beach of Lake MI, holding a cell phone up to my ear and smiling so that I could later show Papa that even though my phone at times refused to get a signal, it was not for lack of trying.
When Adina left for school in CT, she too began to call Papa on a regular basis. From my understanding, Papa was many people's favorite phone buddy, and whenever I visited him and Grandma, the phone rang CONSTANTLY. I can still imagine his voice on the other end, how happy he sounded when hearing from a beloved relative or friend, and the tone of voice he used when he knew he was being funny and about to say something that perhaps he shouldn't.
During the fall of my Junior year we briefly tried to communicate via e-mail as well, but it just wasn't the same as talking on the phone so we soon gave that up. Papa's sense of humor, however, apparently carried over all mediums. On Wed, 18 Sep 2002 16:49:59 -0700, I received this e-mail from him:
Fun DAY ON HOSPITAL TABLE 61/2 HRS .
boring-boring Hoping that all is going well for you try to reach you by phone but dad and grandma insist I practice E-Mail. If I can't will try again tomorrow. Do not run more than 26 miles I tire after five square blocks PaPa
Former tennis player.
And later, on Wed, 17 Dec 2003 14:53:38, he sent another e-mail:
Subject: happy chanukah
He wrote: Dear Adina and Rachel,
It was wonderful visiting your college and meeting your fellow students and examining your work. It's great to be a proud grand parent. Chanukah is here and my family will soon follow. Rachel is on her way. Lot's of love
I was so happy when Papa and Grandma finally moved to Newton since I could now see Papa in person every time I came home. Papa always wore his Michigan jacket with great pride when I would visit, and it meant so much to me when he would brag to anyone who walked by that "this is my granddaughter who goes to MI!". Last December I had the sense that it might be one of my last chances to be with Papa, and I stopped by their apartment as often as possible during my winter break. Papa would always ask me if I had graduated yet, and I would tell him "Soon, Papa, I graduate in May. Almost there." I always felt as if graduating was going to be a team accomplishment that Papa and I would accomplish together, since he had been right there by my side all along. Though he died just a little over a month before I received my diploma, I'd like to think that when he finally left me on my own, he did so with complete faith that I could take it from there.
What I miss the most is being able to pick up the phone and call Papa. I forget that he's gone, and then I have a sudden craving to call him and tell him what's new and hear his own health, current event, and family updates. I want to tell him that I finally DID graduate from Michigan as I had promised, that on a cold day last May Grandma huddled in the bleachers and I could feel his presence beside her. I want to tell him that I am again living in a new place on my own, and most of all, I want to tell Papa that I miss talking to him.
Now Jessie will read a poem that she wrote about her own favorite memory of Papa.