Today I am throwing a surprise 90th birthday for my grandfather, Alvin Lester Sitomer.
My name is Alan Lawrence Sitomer… I was named after him. (Naming after the living is a somewhat dicey call… let my own life be a warning to you – LOL!)
I am not sure I can put into words as to the degree of positive impact this man has had on my personality, belief system or character. And for me to try right now will only leave me feeling as if I have done an inadequate job, so I will not.
(NOTE; it also feels as if it might have a sense of a pre-death eulogy aspect to it and as morbid as that may sound, he is 90, his health is “so so” and this weekend might be the last time I ever see him. However, I feared that 2 years ago as well when we last parted – he lives on the east coast – and I was wrong then so perhaps I will be incorrect now as well.)
Either way it’s a trip of love lined by melancholy. No one escapes the cycle of life. Not even the ones we most adore. And watching role models age – and becoming the caretaker for those who used to be our sole source of strength – well, it’s tough. (Yep, I am the one who does it all. My own father – his son – passed in 1994 and his other son, well… let’s just say it’s with honor and a spirit of love that I currently do the duty. No need to jump into family closets.)
Probably my greatest joy will be the fact that I get to bring my 4 year old daughter to see and hang out with her great-grandfather. He was a master story-teller in his day. (The sun sets on us all, I fear.) But if there is a reason I love STORY, a reason I love heroes and villains and people with guts and fortitude and determination, it certainly began with me sitting transfixed at his knee hearing him weaves tales that made me never want to grow up or leave his side. Zorro, Robin Hood, people who fought for social justice (now that I am old enough to look back and see themes – which, BTW, carry over into my own teaching and writing to this day) those are the stories which moved his soul… and in the telling of them, he moved mine.
As a lawyer, one of his greatest strengths was always oration. And a keen, keen mind.
I’d go on but I guess it’s a discombobulated post today. One filled with non-persued threads and feelings of sadness and longing, accented by love and wistfulness. Like a salad with lots of ingredients – colors and flavors – yet perhaps not really an all that edible dish.
Grandpa Alvin was married 67 years to my Grandma Dorothy… she passed about 2 years ago.
Here’s a pic of me making a trip to introduce them to my own daughter, back in 2010.
Grandpa Alvin is not only the most generous man I know… he’s almost always been the most generous man anyone who knows him knows. Literally, he always had time to be kind, offer wisdom and extend smiles and inspire hope.
Perhaps my greatest goal in this world was to one day be able to carry his water. He is beloved. And he’s my grandfather.
Phew… tough trip, this is.