Josh Bowman takes a moment to remember some of the things he learned from his Zayde on the ten-year anniversary of his passing.
Note: September 17th, 2002 was the day my Zayde (grandfather) Isaac Claitman was buried. It has now been just over a full decade since that day.
- There is a certain dignity in being reserved and quiet. At the same time, when you don’t speak up, you leave a lot of things unsaid. These things can be quite surprising to your family if you say them all at the end of your life.
- It helps having a pal who you can speak Yiddish to when you’re older. Even if your Yiddish isn’t that great anymore. Even if you kind of hate him.
- Old time card games (Lexicon, anyone?) are always a hit with grand kids who appreciate quirky things they can only do at their grandparents’ house. So are claw-foot bathtubs, original wooden cuckoo clocks, and collections of tiny liquor bottles from airplanes.
- It is gentlemanly to wear a suit.
- When I got a mohawk in high school, my Zayde hated it. He said it looked horrible. It was the only time I can remember him directly criticizing me. Later in life, when he was getting senile, he said that the Toronto Pride parade was a sign that the world was coming to an end. Most of the time, though, I agreed with my Zayde.
- If you live into your 90’s, survive two world wars (and nearly get bombed in one), raise a family, run several businesses, and still play tennis, it’s a mitzvah.
- My Zayde was married to my Nana for over 60 years. When she died, he was devastated. How could he not be? She was there for the vast majority of his life. She was his life. He died just a few years later, but it was clear that once she was gone, so was he.
- Falling asleep in front of a television (watching “Wheel of Fortune” if possible) is a time-honoured old man tradition, in which my Zayde happily took part.
- My Zayde taught me to curl. It’s a skill I never used again. I still appreciate it, though. After curling, I believe we went to eat at Obies. Obies isn’t around anymore. Curling, as far as I’m aware, still is.
- For people who grew up in the early 1900’s-1920’s, saving money was essential. If you grew up around scarcity, you learned how to save. My Zayde started buying Bell stock early, and when the stock split he was taken care of for the rest of his life. Even so, he worried about money constantly, and lived a thrifty life. He wanted to ensure an inheritance for his children, which he did. Zayde was quiet, reserved, and dignified. He took care of his wife and his children and his grand-children. He lived a long life, and then he passed away. I admired him, but I wish there was more I could have learned about who he was and what his passions were. He was a man of duty, but a hard person to truly know.
Thank you Zayde. I miss you.