My Grandpa’s 100th Birthday.

28 06 2015
Me and my grandpa.

Me and my grandpa.

Today would have been the 100th birthday of my grandfather.
He passed away almost 21 years ago but I can say that I still think about him almost every day.
This is a man who never went to school beyond the 8th grade, having been pulled away from school to work on the farm and then, himself, worked harder than anyone I probably ever had known.
He was a great grandfather. He wasn’t a 21st century grandfather like you would see today, perhaps, but in his own quiet way, you knew he loved you. He was no nonsense but not in a self-righteous way. He was simple but not dumb in any respect. He was old-world and strict and yet open minded for someone of his generation.
I have been thinking about him a lot today. The world that exists today is greatly different politically, environmentally, socially and financially than the one he left in 1994 and how would he make sense of it – this man who cranked up his first automobile and drove a school bus after retiring from the farm?
While I would not want him to endure his grandson going through a divorce, as I know it would pain him greatly, I would be willing to have him live through that if it meant the opportunity to meet his grandchildren, one of whom he is named for. That would be a real hoot. I can see his wide, dentured smile now laughing at some of the shit that comes out my 14 year old and the rosiness of his cheeks that was prominent around pretty ladies, like my daughter. I picture him reaching for a plastic bag full of Brach candies to offer them to my kids. (It’s funny what you remember.)
It is easy to lose your way on the journey to and during adulthood. I can’t figure it out. I am really struggling right now – but I am ok with it. It is exactly where I need to be and there are lessons that still await me. My grandfather was never affected by what did not concern him. He was a family man through and through – not necessary easy, not necessarily “enlightened”, not necessarily progressive but reliable, true, honest and forthright. These qualities are sorely missing in our ego driven world where it is as much around perception as it is around authenticity. I don’t know that I can live up to that standard myself but am willing to try.
He was not without his struggles, of which I will never really know as there are walls that remain between child and adult either for the sake of the child or the sake of the adult. However, I can tune into those frequencies better now of what they may be as many might be my own today.
100 years old. That would be something.
I remember his funeral on October 6 in New York state. It was the most beautiful, peaceful autumn day. The light from the sun was crisp – the type of yellow hue that is captured in a painting and was accentuated by the calmest winds and it smelled like fresh autumn leaves. I knew that for all his illness, he was at peace.
He came to me a few days later in what was more than a dream. For those of you who have had dreams that were beyond “seeming so real” but yet unexplainable, you will know what I mean.
I never told too many people about it but it was so vivid that I knew it was not just a dream.
I was looking into a mirror that he and my grandmother had in their hallway when I saw my grandfather walk up behind me. But he was not the grandfather who had grown so frail over the past few years. Rather, it was the heavier, mafioso looking guy with salt and pepper mustache and wavy thick hair, shirt with pocket that always held his eyeglasses case, big belt and slacks.
I was incredibly startled to see him, having just buried him.
He was standing behind me and had a wide grin laughing at me as if had just pulled off the best episode of “Punked” that ever existed.
And then, he was gone and I woke up in my bed.
There was a hazy transition from sleep to wake state and I stared at the top of my bureau with my alarm clock.
I knew he was ok.
Happy Birthday Grandpa. Until next time….
Love, Marc
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A Tribute to Fathers who “Work It”

21 06 2015

You don’t have to be a father (or even a male) to be that “go-to” person for someone in your life – a special someone, a friend, relative, co-worker – even a stranger. This Father’s Day – acknowledge and celebrate that part of you and feel proud!

As a tribute to my own father and others like him, I am re-posting an article I wrote for Working Mother magazine 2 years ago. Happy Father’s Day to all those dads who are really working it! – Marc

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Picture courtesy of my favorite daughter.

WORKING FATHERS

By Marc Kaye (as written for Working Mother – June 2013)

This Father’s Day, I’d like to pay tribute to Working Fathers – those men who help many a working mother. In particular, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my very own working dad – let’s call him Bernie (which is coincidentally his name).

Now, Bernie is no Mike Brady. He’s no Ed Bundy, either. Bernie is just “Bernie” and as such, he’s good at imparting valuable lessons to his kids by just being himself (Lesson #1).

In all transparency, this is not a man without his flaws. His propensity for dismissing expiration dates on everything from barbeque sauce to antibiotics as simply “a suggestion” coupled with his ability to nestle within each other different size plastic containers into what can only be described as a cheap man’s version of Ukrainian nesting dolls leave something to be desired. However, beyond that, if you were going to design the perfect dad, you may say my sister and I hit the jackpot.

Let’s not beat around the bush (lesson #2) – when we hear “working mother”, working is often an adjective, referring to as “having paid employment.” When I refer to “working dad”, working is the noun as in “the inner workings of being an engaged dad.” In the former, the focus is on the mother who also works. For the latter, stereotypes often assume the reverse – the worker who also parents. Not so with my dad.

It is interesting to read so much over the past few years about the increasing roles of dads when it comes to raising kids, helping with homework, managing the household and generally being an equal partner with the mother of his children. It seems that society, though still with a ways to go, is catching up to my dad and others like him who have been doing this for the past 40 years. Yes, indeed, these men exist and they are no less “breadwinners”. They, like many women are faced to do today, have also made deliberate choices that were hard, gut wrenching, mature and necessary at the time. These men are unassuming, quiet, reserved and focused on their families. It’s about keeping things simple (lesson #3) and as balanced as possible (lesson #4).

I have learned, as a dad myself, that this is truly hard work. The “father” in “working father” never goes away and that makes the “working” part so important because it’s not a job, it’s a life.

It’s hard to live up to Bernie. This is a guy who does everything on his own. He had a full time job, had a family, was a true son to his in-laws next door, not to mention his own parents, cut the grass, helped build our house, and can seriously fix almost anything. I mean, please…can I catch a break? (After all, this is about me, right?). I can barely get my son’s Lego Star Wars Commander ship to stay together. I know I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone (lesson #5) but I mean, really – c’mon!

As good as a dad as this guy was, he is an awesome grandparent (along with my mom, his partner in crime – and by crime, I do mean the crime of slowly killing me as I watch my kids get away with everything, and I do mean everything, that was punishable by death to me and my sister as kids). My kids really looks up to him – particularly with respect to his corny sense of humor that only the Catskills set could truly appreciate. This is a guy who says what he does and does what he says (lesson #6).

So, on this Father’s Day, let’s take a moment to celebrate Working Dads – whether in the office, at home, driving the bus or taking time to write a silly blog post – these are the guys that are “working it” hard and taking the “Father” part of “Working Fathers” as seriously as the “working” part. (That could have been better worded – Lesson #7).

We love you Dad and to all the Father’s out there – Happy Father’s Day! With that, I’m going to get out of here before I overstay my welcome (lesson #8).








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