Thursday, October 10, 2013

Remembering Grandpa Irv

I lost a dear family member this week. Your first instinct is probably to ask "which side of the family was he on?" Well, he was my sister's husband's grandfather - Grandpa Irv. Many times family is created through marriage, but honestly I feel as though the Simons became family long before my sister (Shira) and brother-in-law (Ben) were married. And now, every night when my husband tucks in the kids, he goes through a laundry list of people that love them. "I love you...and Mommy loves you, and Grandma loves you, and Grandma loves you..." After Grandma and Grandma always came Grandpa Irv...even before Aunt Shira and Uncle Ben! And every single Simon gets mentioned in the nightly shpiel - Ben's parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, niece and nephew. That's how close this family is to us.

Shortly after Shira and Ben's wedding (15 years ago!), Ben's grandparents (on his father's side) moved to Rochester. Since I was still in high school at that point I had the opportunity to spend time with them, and they came to my choir concerts, plays, etc. They also became friendly with my parents and grandparents. After my grandparents died, they became a surrogate set, and I loved them just as much as I loved my own grandparents. They treated me as their own, and I think somewhere down the line Grandpa Irv probably forgot that I wasn't blood related to him. :)

Grandpa Irv and my father became close after my Grandpa Bill died. They used to solve the world's problems over lunch each Tuesday. It's quite possible that after my father became ill he told Grandpa Irv to watch over me, because he certainly did. There's a favorite story of mine that really shows how Grandpa Irv had "adopted" me as one of his grandkids. About a month after I met Shmuel I was home in Rochester for winter vacation. It was about 6 weeks after my father had died, and the whole Simon family had come over for dinner. At one point Sheri (Ben's mom) was talking about how there were so many people getting engaged lately. I sat there with a smirk on my face, and when she noticed she called me out on it. I explained how I had met Shmuel and that we were seriously dating. At some point it was mentioned that he's 14 years older than I am, and Grandpa Irv really let me have it. Here are some quotes as I remember them: "What does he want with someone so much younger?" "Your mother doesn't want you to date someone so much older! Think about how she feels with your dad gone. He was a lot older than she, right?" "You know I'm only saying this because I love you, and your father's not here to say it for himself!" I tried to explain that he wouldn't be saying these things if he had met Shmuel and to wait to pass judgment on him. I knew that once they met that Grandpa Irv would have no problem with it. A few months later Shmuel came to Rochester and met the Simon family, and Grandpa Irv fell in love with him. Honestly, I think it was love at first sight with those two. After that all I ever heard from Grandpa Irv was "how's my Sammy?" It always used to make me grin, since I knew how upset Grandpa Irv was when I first mentioned I was dating someone older, and now here he was welcoming Shmuel with open arms. But that's just how he was...full of love. He loved us, and he loved my kids. I sent him a family picture with Gavriella in it a few weeks ago, so he was able to see her before he passed. I'm just glad the rest of the kids were able to spend some time with him when we went to Rochester this past May.

I did not used to be a very emotional person. When my father died I knew it was coming several weeks in advance. But I never cried at anything back then, and I stoically sat there during his funeral and even at his graveside with not a tear to be found. I wanted to cry, but for some reason my body just couldn't. Same thing at my grandmother's funeral a few months later. Same with basically every other funeral I've ever been to or when someone calls me with news of someone's death. Until this week. I knew Grandpa Irv was sick, and I knew this phone call would be coming, but for the first time ever I couldn't speak while Sheri was telling me that Grandpa Irv had died. I was trying not to cry into the phone or betray my emotion, so all I could give her was one word answers. I loved him as if he were my own grandfather, and in many ways he was. I will miss him terribly, but I hope he's getting to spend some quality time with Grandma Harriette who he's been missing the past 6 years, and I hope he gets to go back to having Tuesday lunches with my father so they can solve the problems of the world. Goodness knows this country could use their help.


This is Grandma Harriette & Grandpa Irv at my wedding - Aug 27, 2006. Not a great quality pic, but you get the idea.


This is a gorgeous picture of the Simon family taken in May. (From L to R: Shira, Grandpa Irv, Ben, Robert, and Sheri)

2 comments:

Ben Simon said...

Elana -- thank you so much for sharing this! You captured Grandpa Irv so well.

He loved you and Shmuel so much. And to this day, he's the only person I've ever heard get away with calling Shmuel, Sam :-). Even that was done out of love.

I'll make sure my parents read this post. These stories are so precious.

-Ben

Beverly said...

Lovely eulogy, Elana. It is wonderful you had such a special relationship!