In the past 18 months I lost all my grandparents. While today we mourned the loss of my Grandma Mary, I saw it more as a celebration of a woman who made the lives of everyone she came across greater. I had the great privilege to grow up with such an amazing set grandparents. They were always there for me when I was a child. My grandparents were as important to my upbringing as my parents. I just want to take a moment to reflect upon each of my four grandparents, and express my gratitude for their selflessness towards everyone and their undeniable love for their family.
My grandpa Arthur for whom I am named after died just months before I was born. He was my father's dad and he was the only one of my grandparents to die an untimely death (around his 50's). From the stories that I heard growing up I always felt that there was a great part missing from my childhood because I never got to experience having him around. He was a great father and even though I never got to know him he did impact my life. By being such an important influence in my father and uncle's lives, he passed onto them the knowledge and experiences of fatherhood. To this I know that me my brother and two cousins are very fortunate.
My grandpa Sydney passed away a year and a half ago. Although he lived a longer life than most people ever do, his death was still something that I wished wouldn't have happened just then. While I love everyone equally, my grandpa was the biggest role model I have had. He was a second father to me. Him and my grandma Mary were always there to take care of me when I was sick and my parents had to work. Through my grandpa I inherited his wonderful charm and love for being alive. I never known him to be self centered. In fact he put everyone before himself all the time. His love for my grandma was unconditional, it was the perfect storybook romance and it lasted for 67 years! When they were apart because he was drafted to WW2, he would write her the most beautiful and romantic poetry. He was an amazing father to my mother and aunt. Even when he reached his early 90's he was doing things for them. He was always going out of his way to lend a hand for a family member, a friend or even a complete stranger. This is a trait that I am proud to say was passed down onto me. Up till the very end he was a fighter, a lover, a father, a grandfather and a friend. Words can't begin to express the admiration I have for Sydney Winnick.
Even though her husband had died an untimely death, my grandma Annette had a lot to look forward to. For the next decade there would be four grandchildren born. My grandma was a very important influence while I was growing up. Some of my fondest childhood memories came from visiting her in Queens. It was through my grandma that I developed a love for entertaining people. She was always turning me onto the theater, music, and late night television. Everytime she drove we'd listen to showtunes. I used to look forward to her sleepovers at my house, it was just like a friend being over. We would stay up late and watch TGIF and classic movies and we'd play cards and dominos till we fell asleep. She was a very devoted Grandmother and it hurt me to see her so upset after she sold the house and moved into a home. The last few years I still enjoyed the visits although they were less frequent and much shorter. My grandmother had her wits about her until the very end and I valued every conversation we ever had.
Today was my Grandma Mary's funeral. The service was beautiful and was a reminder of just how much an impact she left in this world. Everyone who she came in contact with would walk away with a smile and a new friend. She won the heart of my grandpa at first sight and their love was strengthened each and everyday for 67 years. When they were apart it was very hard on everyone. Like my grandpa, she devoted her life to helping others. She was a workaholic and retired in her 70's. She taught and volunteered in public schools were there was a great need for mentors. My grandmother was a mentor to many underprivileged kids. She was also a mentor to my brother and I. She helped make cookies for our class parties and lent an artistic touch to school projects. I never saw anything but a smile on her face. Even when she was in pain she'd be more concerned with other peoples troubles. She always asked what she could do for me or my brother and still mothered my aunt and mom till the very end. She went above and beyond her duties as a parent and grandparent and forever changed the lives of the people she knew for the very best.
I will miss them all and honor them by living vivaciously, selflessly, and as brilliantly as they lived their own.