Dear Dad

Dear Dad:

Remember that afternoon you and I took Noa to the field where the Northwestern marching band practices? It was just after Rosh Hashanah and you and Mom were in town. Noa was three, I think. She was mesmerized by the instruments and even stopped to talk to a kind trombone player who was sitting on the grass. She was so happy, and you and I were content on a sunny afternoon to watch this unfold.

I was thinking about it recently, sitting at Noa’s band concert as she played tuba. You see, years after that band visit, she began playing trombone. I can’t help but think that that kind encounter with an NU band member laid the seeds for her choice of instrument. And later that choice morphed into the addition of tuba. You’d get a kick out of her with that big tuba and its deep sound. She’s still the gentle sweet girl you watched grow for five years, only know she’s taller than me and strong inside and out, and, oh, can she write!

The other day at temple there was a conversation in the office about Goldenrod copy paper, something about which color that was. I called from my desk, happy to add the clarification that I never would have known if it weren’t your favorite color for notes, song sheets and the like.

So often I stop David as he says something – especially when he asks about proper attire for an event or speaks with cautionary word. As I start to talk, he replies, “I know, I am so much like Grandpa Barry.” And, yes, my blue-blazer-loving boy is just that. You would love taking him to Brooks Brothers, and talking about his improv and public speaking, and laughing at his political commentary.

A few weeks ago, Talia came into my office after school and before Hebrew school. She announced that she had to write about someone who had died and she wanted to talk to me about you. Know that other students were writing about pets, so, you were truly a step up – or maybe a choice because she has had no pets, thanks to your surprise pet Ferdinand who bit the diaper man when I was small.

Of course it was an unending work day and I told her I could talk later that evening. By the time we spoke, right before bedtime, she had reflected on what she knew, read the words Jackie and I wrote and spoke after you died, and she wrote:

“Grandpa Barry was, and still is a person in which people trust, love, listen to, and care for. Because I was so young when he passed in 2008, I know him from the lessons he taught and stories he was talked about in. I have learned from him, to express gratitude, be an example of high standards, have leadership, think big, and let other people take the credit. He is also known for a quote which he told his congregation, and now my mom tells hers for summer break — ‘take a long walk, read a good book, and make a new friend.’ He is highly thought of by so many people on top of his family. Every year on his birthday, we eat coffee ice cream, to remember his love for it. We also visit his grave when we can, and tell stories about him frequently.”

And then she wrote you a letter:

Dear Grandpa Barry,

This is your granddaughter, Talia. I just wanted to tell you how things are, with life and family. Right now, I am in fifth grade and am 10 years old. I like school, and I’m doing well in it. I am taking care of grandma and mom. David and Noa are also doing good, Noa now in eighth grade. Our president is Donald J. Trump, and he is doing very bad things to the USA. Mom still talks about you a lot, and shares a lot of lessons and stories from and about you. I really wish I could spend time with you while I’m growing up.

Miss you and love you, Talia Rose Polish

And then I wrote you this letter to say: You’re still here, nine years later, in an assemblage such as this, of the big things and the small things, the explicit, the happenstance and the unexpected. I really wish these children could spend time with you while they are growing up. They miss you and love you. Me too.

Love, Me/Lis/LSG

 

 

Establish the work of our hands!

She was a weaver. Coming to it late in life, her footsteps were no longer steady, but her fingers delicately managed the small loom in her living room, balls of yarn beckoning from the nearby basket. One of her last days, I came to see her. Her daughters handed me a small, soft package, wrapped in tissue — a narrow jewel-toned scarf unrolled, marked by a label with the weaver’s name. Continue reading

Keep Hugging the Bowl

Hug the mixing bowl. Yes, really hug it. If you don’t, it will fly across the kitchen. Actually, with liquid batter, the mixer works just fine, most of the time. But with dough, the bowl goes flying off the base, ingredients with it. If you hug the bowl while it mixes, it will stay on the base. So, I keep hugging the bowl.

“Why?”

Because it was Grandma’s. And when I bake with the KitchenAid 4C that is as old as I am, Grandma is in the kitchen with me. She is telling me to use the best of ingredients. She is baking alongside my three children, at least one of whom is already taller than her. All of this is a neat trick, since Grandma died 22 years ago. Continue reading