By Ali Berlinski on January 06, 2014
No matter how many times I experience loss, it never gets any easier. Every loss is different and significant. Even though I’m sure he’s at peace, one of the greatest men I’ve ever known passed away Saturday night, my grandfather.
Guido or Guy as he preferred to be called, was from the Bronx.
It doesn’t get any more Italian than that.
And yet, I’m not Italian.
For my grandfather was not my family by blood but by choice.
He was the father of my older brothers whose mother passed away before I was born.
Since both my biological grandfathers died when my parents were young,
Grandpa Guy, was the only grandfather I’ve ever known.
However, my grandpa was much more than that.
He was an academic.
At 16 he graduated NYC’s prestigious Stuyvesent High School as the valedictorian.
For his hard work they gave him a pocket watch.
He was a computer whiz.
When I was 16 he asked me to teach him how to use a computer and I did.
Every day that summer we’d sit down for and hour and I’d give him lessons.
The look of amazement on his face when he touched the space key and saw the cursor move was priceless. “You mean I touch this button and that little line moves? That’s fantastic!”
In return Grandpa taught me how to play Kings in the Corner and remained patient as I tried to swing a golf club. I still can’t, but mostly by choice.
By the end of the summer he was an expert in Microsoft Word,
and knew how to make his own cards.
He could even print on both sides.
Guy cards he’d call them. They were copyrighted.
I still have every Guy Card he’s ever made me.
After that there was no stopping him.
He created his own gmail account and started flooding everyone’s inboxes with forwards.
When I was at university he asked me if I blogged.
Back then, I barely knew what blogging was.
However, Grandpa’s absolute favorite thing to send were jokes.
One Christmas he printed out hundreds of online jokes and put them in a binder for my two older brothers.
There were so many he had to create dividers: political, religious, blond.
Like any other Italian my grandpa was a foodie.
When I was at university we’d go out to lunch almost once a month.
Being a student my stomach was generally empty.
And so when my grandpa insisted we have a glass of wine and oysters on the half shell at 11am, who was I to refuse?
It quickly became our tradition.
During lunch we’d talk about everything and he’d give me tips,
“I always park in the furthest parking space so I can get a little bit of exercise”
“Your grandma had all her real teeth because she’d eat the hard ends of the bread”
“Well it may not be the party you were hoping for but you might as well dance”
The last one inspired me to write a chapter in my book.
Grandpa was always motivating me to learn and create.
He was a muse.
After I moved to Spain he became an artist and took up painting,
mostly landscapes and computer desktop backgrounds.
He even had a showing of his work in the assisted living community where he lived.
He was a celebrity.
Though I’ve been living in Spain for the past 3 years,
every now and then I’d send him a funny forward or postcard from my travels.
He loved hearing about and seeing pictures of my adventures.
Grandpa was a traveler at heart.
While time did its best to slow grandpa down, he never stopped learning and traveling.
Thanks to the Internet he traveled all over the world.
One of his favorite places was Machu Picchu.
I still have the powerpoint presentation he sent me.
I have no idea where he found it, though I’m glad he got to see it, even if through a screen.
The last time I went home I traveled though a foot of snow to see him.
We talked for 30 minutes which to a 98 year old is like 5 hours.
He held my hand and asked of I was happy.
I told him, “Extremely,” and he smiled back, “I’m glad.”
My grandpa was more than my grandpa.
He was my mentor and my friend.
I miss you dearly grandpa.
Thank you for all the memories and good meals.
Cheers to you.
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