Happy Birthday, Zaydie!

Today, Zaydie would’ve been one hundred and one years old. I have thought about him every day since he passed away in late-January.

Mostly, I think about what I would’ve have shared with him over the past seven months.

First and foremost, I know Zaydie would’ve loved meeting baby Ryan. Seeing and hearing about the growth and development of this infant would’ve given him tremendous pleasure. Ryan’s displays of learning, attempts of speaking, and infectious laughter would’ve filled his heart. His fifth great-great-grandchild would’ve been another testament to the unique family he built in the wake of the Holocaust.

Next, we’d discuss family-related stuff; holiday get-togethers and my anticipated trips to Florida; my parents’ sale of their home and impending move; my husband’s and kids’ jobs; etc. We always found things to talk about.

And then, we’d discuss my work.

I don’t think Zaydie would’ve approved of my “moving to Israel” for six weeks to help re-engineer my company. He’d admonish me for leaving my husband. When I’d remind him that my husband travelled plenty and for long periods of time — back  in the days in which I had my own business and two little kids — he’d say, “well, that was different. A man must provide for his family.” Then, I’d “argue” with him about men versus women, stereotypes, the lack of equity, etc. He’d weakly fight back. We’d conclude with his regular cop-out…”I’m an old man from the Old Country. Times were different. My English isn’t good. I can’t express myself properly. Do what you want.” And so it would end.

He would enjoy, however, hearing my tales of living in Israel. The challenges at work and the attempt to drive change. My striving for total and complete focus on work with minimal distractions. My weekly visits with family. But mostly, my observations — about the culture, the attitudes, the drivers, the different ways of working, and the Israeli chutzpah — would all make him laugh his quiet laugh.

And when I’d tell him how — over the six weeks — I worked out almost every day to clear my head and  stay healthy or how I ate healthy, he’d laugh again. Through his life, he never cared what he ate (he just was happy to have any food to eat!) and he never ever exercised. And so, he’d say, “what do you need it for? You’ll live to a hundred no matter what.” I’d just shake my head and sigh.

At the end of the day, I know Zaydie would’ve been proud of what I accomplished these past many months. He would’ve been supportive. He’d be relieved to see that life has gone on without him.

Life is strange without him. Frequently, I forget he’s really gone. I hope he’s looking down on me — on all of us — with deep satisfaction.

I love you, Zaydie, and I miss you. I hope you are celebrating up in heaven.