Sadness, Discovery and Inspiration
I just lost someone very close to me, the man who not only gave me my love for chocolate and my insatiable sweet tooth, but who also taught me how to play backgammon and dominoes, crack an egg with one hand, make challah French toast and master his famous matzoh brei (I had shared his handwritten recipe – and secret – on the blog). My 89 year old Grandfather, my friend and role model, who was playing tennis a few times a week just a couple of months ago, and skyping with me from New York to Switzerland, passed away after 72 years as my Grandmother’s best friend.
My grandparents traveled the world together, in search of new adventures and the sounds of exotic languages. They instilled in me a hunger for discovery, a perpetual curiosity about other cultures and an understanding of travel through interactions with people. There was simply no way to visit a new city or country without spending time talking to locals and returning home with tons of stories, memories and photos.
I have spent the past few weeks in New York looking at family photos. I love photos. Images of my sister and me growing up, playing with Barbies (hers) and LEGO (mine); family cheering us on at the track and on the soccer field; the two of us dressed up in silly outfits (who dressed us ?!), running around, laughing hysterically and spending quality time with my grandparents. Photos of my parents when they were my age, and even of my grandparents that young too. The most extraordinary images of all were found in a small, black, battered box with a faded fabric top that my Grandmother opened for us for the first time (those are her hands above). Inside were miniature photos, smaller than a standard business card, that my Grandfather took with his Voigtländer camera and sent home to my Grandmother while he was at war. He was in the medical unit during World War II, based in Rome and Paris, and added handwritten notes on the images as captions for my Grandmother.
Paris was a city he fell in love with (I guess it runs in the family), and where he later returned with my Grandmother to fall in love all over again. They both fell in love with the magical City of Lights yet again during my wedding in France several years ago. I love that my Grandfather chose to make his mother’s maiden name, Paris, endure, replacing his middle name with it.
One of these treasured images of my Grandfather will now have a special spot on my desk. I miss my Grandfather tremendously and not a day will go by that I don’t think of him…