Tuesday, May 19, 2009

RIP Armando Gerstel: The Burial

We buried him today. Ever since Grampi died, the weather has alternated between overcast and torrential. My mom went to go identify his body at the funeral home. She came out crying, which didn't surprise me. My uncle Henry went next to say goodbye. That's the first time I've ever seen him really cry. People break down over the most random things when they've been emotionally drained like we all have. Henry hated the fact that Grampi's body was just lying there on a cold table, when he surely deserved far more comfort than that. My mom collapsed on the podium as soon as she started her eulogy.

I am a practical person. I knew in the back of my head that my grandfather was ill, that his days on Earth were soon to come to an end. I had always hoped, however, that he would be able to hold out at least until I got married. What really killed me inside about his death was that I would never be able to introduce him to my girlfriend, Nancy. He and Nancy had spoken on the phone, and I had told Grampi all of the wonderful things about Nancy, and vice versa. Nancy thought that Grampi was handsome, and loved hearing stories about him. Her grandfather died a long time ago, and was a right bastard, to put it mildly. She told me that she liked imagining Grampi as her grandfather too. 

Nancy and I have been dating for nearly two years, and have decided to get engaged in about a year. She is not Jewish, and I don't plan on converting her. She would do so if I pressed the issue, but the Jews haven't forcibly converted people for 5700+ years, and I'm not about to be the first. I anticipate friction in the family because of this. Grampi and Annie were the first to learn anything of these plans. Annie giggled when she saw me wearing a titanium promise band on my ring finger. Grampi told me he would never forgive me if I went anywhere else but his shop (as if) for the engagement ring. Grampi was Jewish and Annie is a Christian, so he had a special understanding of the ways that an inter-religious couple had to compromise in order to work. Annie even suggested a rabbi she knew who would perform a marriage between a Jew and a Gentile.

I feel a little guilty wanting to prolong my grandfather's suffering for that long. Its just that I can't think of another person that I'd rather have at my wedding than the man whose warmth, generosity and personality I looked to for my entire life. Nancy and I decided yesterday to name our first son Armando Esformes, in honor of my hero.

When the final scoop of dirt was shoveled onto Grampi's grave, the rain stopped and the clouds parted, and the sun shown brightly for the first time in 4 days. God can be so maudlin sometimes, I swear. I would never have believed a story like that had I not witnessed it myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

meow, that is so amazing. *crying* I really miss him so much. He was and still is an amazing man to me. Thank you so much for witting about a Great Man.

kiss kiss