Monday, May 07, 2007


My grandfather (aka, "Poppie") died last week at the age of 91.

Because of the distance, location, child-care issues, etc., I wasn't able to fly over for the wake and funeral.

However, the family allowed me to write the eulogy--which Big Mamma will read at the funeral later this morning. I present the text below, on this Virtual Tribute Bar.

If you like my sense of humor, then you'd have liked Poppie's.

If you don't like mine, then you really, *really* wouldn't have liked his.

Right, Big Mamma? Uncle Sammy? ;-)

May 6, 2007

My Poppie wasn’t the sentimental type. He was a private, introspective man with a biting, sardonic--yet hilarious--wit.

I, as his oldest grandchild, know this as well as anyone. And it presents me with a bit of a dilemma.

If I were tempted to get too sentimental in writing this eulogy, then I could clearly imagine him pulling me aside. And with his left hand clutching a half-eaten chocolate-covered cherry and his right hand balled into a boney-knuckled fist, he’d probably--mockingly--say something like:

“Listen, Harry! I’m not your grandmother. If you get too sentimental on me, I’ll punch you right in the mouth.”

And so, with that threat of karmic revenge hanging over my head, let me offer a few carefully chosen words.

Today is an undeniably sad day for my family and me. But there was nothing sad about Poppie’s life.

He lived 91 years. And during those 91 years, he didn’t have a single serious illness or injury.

He was married for 65 years to the same woman. And that woman was one hell of a good cook.

He had three children, eight grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. They all outlived him. Considering Poppie’s Kevlar-coated genetics, that was no small feat.

He served in World War II, during which he was neither wounded nor--to my knowledge--witness to any undue horrors. His service in the US Army’s 183rd Signal Corp was a source of understated--yet so plainly obvious--pride throughout the rest of his life.

Sooner or later, the ride always comes to an end. In Poppie’s case, the ride was very long and very smooth. What more can you ask for?

Still, however, a lot of us are feeling a lot of sadness. That’s Ok. Sadness is both rational and healthy on a day like today.

With regard to the sadness, I’d like to offer an analogy. And in deference to my Nonnie , it’s a food analogy.

The human cycle of life and death is like the baking of sourdough bread. An old loaf may disappear from the countertop...but you’ll find a bit of its “sourdough starter” in each new, subsequent loaf.

And, so…for so long as there’s an Inés loaf...or a Nicholas loaf...or a Mia loaf...or a Ryan loaf...or a Kira loaf...or the two Tony loaves—that crusty old Poppie loaf hasn’t really left the kitchen.

Oh, damn! That was a bit sentimental, wasn’t it?

Sorry, Poppie. Fifty or so years from now, you can punch me right in the mouth.


At 5:29 PM, Blogger Angie said...

Sal, you may not have been trying to be sentimental, but you still made me tear up. (But that's just the way I'm wired.) That's a beautiful tribute. I'll be thinking of you and your family.

At 5:56 PM, Blogger The Big Finn said...

Poppie sounds like a great guy, AND...(hopefully for you) he looks like he could be W. Clement Stone's long-lost brother!
I share in your sadness, but...91 years! Wow!!
Nuttin' wrong wit' dat!

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Michael said...

So sorry to hear about your Poppie.

Very good euology though, I giggled even though I don't know him.

At 6:46 PM, Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

I'm sorry to read about your granpa, Sal. But he lived a long and fun-filled life with many sourdough crumbs. I'm sure Poppie will not punch you right in the mouth. A slight slap on the cheek maybe, but no punch. :)

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of your loss -- Your Poppie left a wonderful legacy.

Nelson & Mary Sundeiln

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Franje said...

my condolences. It is nice to hear that he lived his life well, with a strong sense of humour.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Glenna said...

Sal--So sorry. Poppie might have given you a hard time for sentimentality but I think he would have been secretly pleased anyway.

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Desert Flutie said...

That was a wonderful tribute, I'm sure your Poppie is very proud of you.


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