Friday, May 28, 2010

Every Dollar of It

In memory of my paternal grandparents, who passed away 9 and 8 years ago this week.

My grandfather, Lester Seinfeld, was born in Chicago and spoke only Yiddish the first four years of his life.

Yet, I cannot recall hearing a word of Yiddish from his mouth, other than "Why don't you get off your tuchus!"

He once told me that when he was younger, he intuitively knew what someone was about to say before they said it. He also once told me, "You can't argue with religion" and "Every family should have a (meaning a single) religion." When I started keeping kosher, he would chide me, "Haven't you ever heard of 'when in Rome'?"

To which I would retort, "Sure, and look what happened to them!"

And he would laugh.

He met his wife, my grandmother, on her sixteenth birthday. Based on that, I worked out that they knew each other for exactly seventy years and seventy days.

What was the secret to their epic marriage?

I never asked them, but I have vivid memories of how they treated each other.

They married during the worst of the Great Depression, and had very little money, but were always optimistic.
They always put each other first. They were constantly thinking of each other's needs. I never heard them speak badly about each other, but did hear them praise each other in many ways.
Especially my grandfather - he would always check with my grandmother before (for example) changing his routine.
They did things together (bridge and travel is what I remember).
They stayed out of each other's territory.
They made home movies and watched them from time to time.
They played a lot of bridge. I mean a lot. They even went to bridge tournaments to play and watch other people play.

After I left for college, my grandfather would occasionally send me a $100 bill with a note, "Don't mention this to your grandmother."

The day he died, a note was found that he had written, something of a farewell, which ended with "Zeigezunt" - that's Yiddish for "be well". Who knew?

She died 2 days before his first yahrzeit, and we buried her towards sunset on his yahrzeit, when it is said that the soul, having returned to the grave temporarily, departs again. She waited to go until he was available to escort her.

When you've found a soul-mate, and stuck together through thick and thin, not even in death do you part.

Shabbat Shalom

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. - Churchill

PS - one of my grandfather's favorite Johnny Carson sketches:

If you're too young to enjoy that one fully, you can wash it down with this:

(watching it will elucidate the title of this post, by the way)

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