For Papa, Three Years Later

11 Jan

This is actually something that I wrote in January of 2010 and that I read three years ago tomorrow, on what was that year a Tuesday.  It is the eulogy for my grandpa, who all us grandchildren lovingly called Papa, who had passed away a few days earlier, on the 9th of January, if memory serves.  It’s meant to be funny, because that’s how the Franks do it.  Mostly it’s only funny to those who have spent time with us and around us.  So, here it is.  (It’s pretty much in its original form, so forgive me.)  I toyed with the idea of adding an addendum at the end, but maybe that’s a story for another day.  Enjoy.

“I was really hoping I would get to give this little speech before my dad because I don’t know that I can follow another crowd pleaser like his famous Nanny-food eulogy but here goes.

“To me, Papa was perfect.  He always seemed so tall, and never more than at our Passover Seder every year when he would sit at the head of the table, surveying the family.  I don’t know who around here has attended a Frank family Passover, but there is basically nothing like it.  Papa would sit there with his Hagada, copyright 1952, marked with countless brisket and sweet potato pie stains, and lead the Seder.  With a somber expression, he would read his part while the rest of us, in true Frank fashion, would erupt in little jingles about karpas, morror, and kasha varnishkas.  Papa would wait until we ran out of steam, which we eventually would, and he would pick right back up where he left off.  Well, until the next time someone noticed karpas and the whole thing started all over again.  He never got angry, or at least not visibly so.  He just sat there with a twinkle in his eye.  I knew how important Judaism was to him and I never understood why he would let us carry on like that on one of the most important days of the year.  I realized this past year, our last Passover together, that it was less about Judaism and more about family.  The Seder was important to him, so we all came together and did it, and enjoyed it, and made it our own.  More than that, though, is the fact that we were important to him.  So rather than joining in all our hijinks, he just sat, watched, and took it all in.

“I kept all that in mind last Wednesday when I rushed home from Brooklyn to see Papa after he came home from the hospital.  The second I walked in the room, expecting to find Papa physically but not mentally, I caught his eyes and they immediately lit up.  He told me how wonderful I looked, I told him how wonderful he looked.  He rolled his eyes and said something I dare not repeat in synagogue.  I sat down and he started asking me about the paper I just sent in — he agreed that Monsanto should be put out of business — about the race I was about to run — he was convinced I was going to win — and about the summer programs I am applying to — he thought I should not build dry-latrines in Haiti (too dangerous).  He then went on to tell me that he found some of Lucy’s poems on his computer and that she’s really good.  That Milo can really play ball and he’s going to make it (I agreed on both counts).  Then he decided he wanted a bowl of Rice Krispies.  The nurse had told me he couldn’t get out of bed, that he wasn’t strong enough.  But all of you knew Papa, and he looked at me and said “Come on, Bekah, let’s get some cereal.”  And even though intellectually I knew he couldn’t stand and walk on his own, in one look he had me convinced.  I was sure he was going to get up, put on his slippers and get himself a bowl of Rice Krispies.  And that was Papa, determined and strong and never defeated.”

One Response to “For Papa, Three Years Later”


  1. Poop, Ghosts and Baby Chickens | franklyrebekah - December 10, 2013

    […] to everyone, but sometimes dead people visit me in my dreams.  Like a few months ago, my grandpa, Papa, came for a visit.  He asked me how my running was going.  I asked him how being dead was […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: