April 2, 2010

A Generation Passes

he taught me to whistle and to have tough skin
Poppy's Prescription to a Long Life

Someone recently asked me what was my grandfather's "prescription to life." My first thoughts were Gamble with a capital G. His "prescription" was to seek pleasure in each day by pursuing his amusements before and after retirement. He was always connected to what made him happy and cultivated it perhaps sometimes at the expense of duty. He loved to play cards and gamble. When I think of my grandfather I always think of Off Track Betting, card games with his weekly card group, riverboats, horse and dog tracks and the casinos. Before Atlantic City and Las Vegas lost their stanglehold on casinos in the 1990s he would travel by bus to Atlantic City but once Foxwoods was established he was a fixture there. I think he liked the idea of being a "whale." Sadly, I never had the pleasure of going to the casino with him.

He loved games - he took up golf for a while and he bowled with a league in his younger days. He loved cars and was always switching up his cars. His pride and joy was his Mustang that he bought off the show room floor. He liked travelling to see things like when the Tapenzee Bridge was opened for traffic in 1955. While he enjoyed road trips, they were on his terms - fast with very little stopping and generally you saw the sight over your shoulder as you passed it by. He read a lot. He really enjoyed the Reader's Digest condensed books. He kept up with the world politics and was a staunch Republican. He fancied himself a land dealer buying and selling land making profits before and after the real estate boom. He even read up on real estate licensing but never became a broker. He was a farmer of sorts keeping cows, horses, chickens, and geese with the barns and tractors, balers, and rakes for haying to go with it. I don't know if he originally kept livestock out of necessity but it was a pleasure for him. I 'll never forget him calling his cows in "kebas." He was a folk artist enjoying creating things with metal or carving. I think every family member owns at least one of his creations. He enjoyed rocks and Turquoise was his favorite. He was a junk man and collected treasures continuously. He went to estate sales picking up this and that sometimes to my grandmother's chagrin. He loved old bottles, coins, trains, postcards, statues, and instruments. He was always looking for the million dollar penny.

He grew up poor in a large family and had to make his way early in life. He was proud of his life's accomplishments outwardly but perhaps inwardly, if he had been born to different times and circumstances, he would have pursued a college education. He was proud of his Indian heritage in a romantic, idealized way. He loved being surrounded by his family and we were devoted to him despite his pokes, prods and barbs. He ate 6 eggs a day and drank plenty of coffee and thought of the sun as a curative, though, partly it was in his genes, and not smoking or drinking for his long life. His family and his pursuit of his own happiness and living each day to its fullest was his prescription to a long life.

He wore a turquoise ring mixed his stripes and plaids, a bolo tie and wore a jaunty flat cap. And he was on his way that was Poppy.

His last bit of advice to me was to make my kids' oatmeal with milk, not water!

Dear Poppy,
I still can't believe you are gone.....


bonnie said...

wen, i just found this. what a great story. i do remember his car rides and they were fast while you had to look over your shoulder. he was also narrating while he was driving. you quite the collection from him. very nice.

Gabriela said...

What a nice tribute. I'm sorry for your loss, but how fortunate you were to have had him in your life! And I love his last bit of advice, with which I STRONGLY agree. Oatmeal with milk, not water always. :)

Tüp Bebek said...
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