For my Poppy

I’m still alive. I haven’t posted in a long time, and that’s largely due to the fact that my grandfather died.

No Toblerone bar, no non-alcoholic bloody mary mix, no crossword puzzle, and no – not even raising kittens in tribute is making me feel better about his passing – and I deal with death really well usually. I just very selfishly want him (and all of his wisdom) back.

He was the man who helped me find myself and find the path to life and light after my first husband left me. He even offered to be the property manager when I found tenants to rent my house when I went to law school, and then bought the house from me after the tenants almost completely wrecked it. To be blunt, he saved me, financially, speaking, from bankruptcy, in 2005, so that I could be a lawyer… and he did so without hesitation.

The three months I lived with him, prior to law school, I changed a lot as a person. I became a better “me.” I started to see the world differently… not as a place that was full of challenges, but a place that was full of opportunities. And I think it had a lot to do with our talks.

When I was lost about who I was and what I was about — He was the guy who said, “Just be your best Rachael every day. That’s all anyone can ask of you, especially you.” And even though I didn’t understand then, I do now.

The talks we had about what the “right kind of guy” was like are why I think I was able to find someone as good for me as Adam, and I know that he he held my husband in high regard. He said, “The right kind of man doesn’t buy you flowers. He helps you plant trees.” For our second anniversary, Adam and I are planning to plant trees.

My Poppy was the only person who was ever successful at getting me to go to Friday night Temple services… he helped me learn to observe the Sabbath, and why. And for the first time in my life, I understood the importance of doing so.

He seemed disappointed, but also non-plussed when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He already had a son with it. He never once thought that it would stand in the way of my future plans. Even on the night that he died, he told my mom that he hoped that one day I could get a good job and earn money because he thought it would be good for my self-esteem. That was one of the great things about him: he was a futurist at all times. He always reminded me to never say never – that we never knew what was coming next.

That’s the same guy who said, “You win some, you lose some…” when the doctors told him that there was nothing more that they could do for him. That’s just the kind of guy he was: practical to the very core.

Of all the things that I’ve learned about him since his passing, there is one thing that has made me smile great big, and that was that he kept scrap books, much like I blog. And he kept them since he was a teenager. Reading some of them made me feel like he was still very much alive. He’s inspired me to start scrapbooking myself, because it is a treasure for our family, for certain.

I will miss my Poppy forever, and I know that I carry him with me every day. I know the Tao of Rae would never have begun without him. His love of theology spread to me. I know my kids will know how to play chess because he taught my Dad and my Dad taught me.

I have a “Shalom Y’all” doormat because of the “Shalom Y’all” artwork in his house. (And yes, I know that Grammy bought that!) I know I was raised a proud Southern Jew in part because of his influence.

My happiest thought, when I let myself think about there being an afterlife, is that Poppy now knows EVERYTHING finally, and can kibets with the almighty to get all those niggling questions he has about life and why certain things happened certain ways off of his chest. He’ll be having Bagels and Bible with the best of them.

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