Sunday, August 24, 2008

Death in the Family

REAL LIFE, I'm not making any of this up. Just so you know. I'd be a complete asshole if I was lying...

My Zayde (that's what Jews call their grandpa, pronounced zay-dee) died last night and these are my raw thoughts. I'm also not going to be able to post again until Wednesday or Thursday, because I have to fly to Toronto for the funeral and won't be back till Wednesday. So deal with it, I got other shit on my mind.

This is my Zayde holding me when I was a wee piss-ant, with my Bubbie (that's what Jews call their grandma, are you taking notes?) on the right. I love them like you wouldn't believe.

So, I have trouble sleeping and often turn my phone off before going to bed, because my phone is loud and I'd rather sleep than talk to anybody who woke me up. When I got up this afternoon, at around 3pm, I checked my phone and saw that I had 8 voice mails. This is unusual, as I'm not that popular. I immediately knew what this meant. I knew that my Zayde had finally passed.


My Zayde is a holocaust survivor from Poland. He was in Auschwitz, with the numbers tattooed on his arm and everything. He had a massive stroke about 9 years ago and lost his ability to speak. Over the years, his physical condition grew worse, and since 2002, he has been bed-ridden and out of it. He had a brief "Awakening" a couple years ago after taking an experimental drug, but just like in the movie, it didn't last very long. For the past six months, my mom has been flying to Toronto a lot, as he was in serious decline. She always came back from her visits asking me if I had a suit to wear for the funeral. So, I knew this was coming.

The thing is, I've been ready for his death for some time, now. I've made peace with it and I'm ashamed to say it, but he essentially died a long time ago in my mind. I'll always have the memories of his generosity and old-world Jew love, but that man has been put to rest for 6 or 7 years now. I often blocked out the dim-eyed specter of my Zayde from my thoughts, focusing on the years in which he was able to give me heartfelt love (and whiskey, he was always letting me sneak sips from his glass, even when I was 8!).

Back to the details today...

So I listened to all the voice mails, from my mom, my dad, and my sister. Each one increasingly more desperate and angry at my unavailability. I feel like shit for making them worry at a time when everything is sadness mixed with go-go-go. And that's what's weird about the whole thing. We've known this day would be coming for years, and yet when it finally arrived, a panic set in. Like we hadn't been prepared.

The funeral is tomorrow at 1pm, and I was scheduled to fly into Toronto at 6:30pm today. There was no way I could make that flight, so I changed it to 6:30am (AM!) tomorrow morning. Now I have to go to my parent's house in the suburbs to get my passport, pack a suitcase, get to the airport at 5am, arrive in Toronto at 9:30am, get dressed for his funeral, attend his funeral, sit shiva, and probably take some flak about my long hair and beard from some people I hardly know.

That's the other thing. After learning about my Zayde dying, I thought I should cut my hair to look more respectable for relatives. This proved to be impossible, because it was 3:30pm on a Sunday, and every hair cutting place was closed. I meant to get it cut this week anyway, for my latest attempts at obtaining employment. Figures.

I've been letting my hair grow for 6 months, and I'd rather have it be a non-issue, instead of getting contemptible looks from the Jewish Cabal. But I'll probably get a pass because, after all, it was my Zayde that died. Maybe. There are still tons of rich assholes I haven't even met that will shoot me dirty looks. I wonder if I could get away with going off on one of them, as a warning to the others not to fuck with me, like in prison... Nah, I'm over thinking it. I'm just insecure around people that are more successful than me, is all. Besides, I may have to deal with these people later on, and I don't want to burn bridges, Larry David-style.

And that's going to be my reality for the next few days. Fan-fucking-tastic!

This is my favorite picture of my Bubbie and Zayde. Zayde is lookin' straight gangsta in a grocery store. You should see some pictures of him in sunglasses. Jewish Mafia, anyone?

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