Apr 14, 2024by tracey Comments

Dear Grandpa,

In all honesty I was not planning on writing to you today.  I wrote to grandma when mom died. That was almost four years ago this summer.

You have now been gone for forty-eight years.

I guess I don’t have to tell you that. Or do I?  I don’t know what anyone knows or doesn’t know. I don’t know where we go. If we go anywhere. I am always flabbergasted by the people who are so sure they do know.

What I do know is I am now closer to where you are then I am to when you died.

You died at seventy-six. I turn sixty-six in four weeks. Can you imagine that?  Your little puchki – a senior citizen.

You have been dead for forty-eight years, and I now lose more people than I gain. I have more behind me than I do in front of me.

I don’t want to make this all about me. But it’s hard to make it about you as you left me before I was old enough to really know what life was or who you were.   I never got to ask you the big questions.  I never got to have conversations with you that now I long to have.

I have so many questions for you. I have often said, that if there is one person in the world I would like to come back from the other side and spend twenty-four hours with, it’s you.  It’s not mom. Especially after the last twenty months she would just yell and scream, more than usual.

 It’s not my dad. God knows, And it’s not grandma. I loved grandma. I really did. And I took good care of her after you left. I could have done better. I know that now. Though I tried.

I didn’t understand age then. I didn’t understand the world of the old. A world where life suddenly ignores you and you become invisible. I was young and selfish.

And mom was always such a handful. And she was left in my hands.

I want you to know, I buried grandma – alone. Not totally alone. Audrey, your niece, who died this year too, she was there. And I think Rose or Morrey. Mom refused to come. I know big surprise. I never forgave her for it. Never. I threw it up to her until the end of her life. I hold it against her to this day.

But she deserved my lifelong wrath on that one.  After all you both did for both of us. She couldn’t drive ninety miles to LA for grandma’s funeral? She couldn’t bury her own mother?

When Grandma died I was 33 and had a six-month-old baby girl. And mom just went I’m not doing this. I was like WTF. You don’t need to know what that means. You will say why do you speak like a stevedore?

So I did it.  Without her.  Because I love you both so much. And that’s what family does.  And even though grandma did not have many friends or speak to many of her relatives, I gathered who I could. And we put her in the ground next to you at Mt. Sinai.

I bought little pots of violets, her favorite flower, (in case you forgot) and I put some on her grave. I then gave everyone who showed up a little pot of violets to take home to keep her alive in their hearts.

After the ceremony I took everyone to Lawry’s for a big prime rib meal. As I knew that was what she would have wanted to do.

This was not what this was supposed to be about, but I’m on a roll and I have been carrying this around for decades.

That was the beginning of what was to become the norm after you died, I was the grown-up in the family.

Grandma was a grownup – but she was what they now would call neurodivergent.  And I don’t have enough words to explain it. People have very short attention spans these days. But it means she was just wacky in the head. We all are. It kind of covers the waterfront of mental issues, in keeping with the stevedore theme.

In a nutshell, after all these years and living a huge life, I have lived such a big life grandpa, but it means that in the history of that life you were and remain my most stable person who always had my best interests at heart.  And I only got eighteen years with you.

And in every life as you know because I know you came from nothing and made yourself into someone.  I know you had struggles, but I think losing you so young was maybe one of the worst things that could have happened to me.

The worst thing up until this year. The last twenty months of my life have been just hell. Like I have lived through things no one should have to unless they are truly a bad person.

Listen, I have had problems, who hasn’t? But, thanks to you, and hard work, I’ve had a good life.  Until twenty moths ago.

Twenty months ago, my husband was arrested and charged with felonies he did not commit.

Yeah, that happened. You were a lawyer. And you were very successful, why would you be surprised at that? Maybe you would be. One of the questions I have been longing to ask you.

The world is a very different place than when you left it. Rules, race, law, politics and media they are all in a giant unregulated soup together.

I’ve been a really good citizen. Like I pay my parking tickets the day I get them. I pay my taxes on time. I work  for charities. Take care of my kids.I try and be a good friend.   I am kind of scared of authority, so for me, this was like The Twilight Zone.,

Spoiler alert, it turned out OK. But you don’t know what spoiler alert means either.

However, before it turned out OK, it was just beyond horrific. And I would talk to you. You were the only person who is no longer here I would just sit and jabber at.

Grandpa what do I do?” How do I do this? Why did this happen? And I knew if you were here, you would have helped me. You would not have judged. You would have guided me through it.

You would have stood by me. Grandma would have too.  But it would have sent her to bed. And she would have needed oxygen.  And thank God they now have better drugs than Librium.  She meant well, but you know, neurodivergent.

Mom would have yelled that’s what you get for marrying a Jew. The world has gotten very antisemitic again.  It’s scary. But mom would feel very vindicated in her own antisemitism. She’s tucked away in her drawer in the Santa Barbara Mission.

But you would have been my rock and I just wanted you here so much.

I think you would have been proud of me. I did get through it. And I found a strength I didn’t even know I had. And I walked into the court room and I held my head high. And I did not buckle to those who abandoned me or said horrible things.

Every day I just put one foot in front of the other and I said,  What would grandpa have wanted me to do? How would he have wanted me to handle this? Just make Phil proud. Channel Phil. His strength. His steeliness. His devotion to his family. His ability and willingness to put them first. And maybe this will all turn out OK. And it did.

And you know something else you would like? Do you remember how you always said silver dollars were good luck?

I had a little envelope of your silver dollars tucked away in my safe. I have had them for almost fifty years.

I tend to always have one of those or a two-dollar bill on me as they were your good luck charms.

 Before the trial I took out that little envelope and there were exactly enough for me, Glenn, and my two daughters. And we each walked into that court room every day with one of your silver dollars with us.

I said, we need Grandpa Phil.  He will get us through this and to the other side. And you did.

Now everyone keeps the coins on them for luck. You love that?

And one more thing.  I don’t know if dead people remember stuff.  Do you remember the last time we spoke?

I was in San Francisco. It was the summer I had just graduated from high school. I was at ACT studying acting. I was in my apartment, that of course you were paying for, overlooking The Golden Gate Bridge.  We were on the phone.  You were failing and I didn’t know it, except I kind of did. And so did you.

And your last words to me were, whatever you do, just make something of your life.  You said, I’ve left you enough money if you invest it and you are careful ,you will be OK.  But you need to make something of your life and do something with it.

And I just always pray that every time I have done something good or made progress you can see it.

I’m not the most famous person in the world or anything.  But I have done something with my life. I’ve been successful enough. I have made my own money.  I have accomplished a lot in a difficult field.

As I said, my best years are now behind me.  But I am proud of what I have done. And the work I have churned out.

And I just always want you to know that. And when really good things have happened, like a book got on the best seller list or movies were made or I sold a big script, I looked up and said to you, see, I did it.

I have raised two wonderful daughters. One of whom carries your name as her middle name.  One is married and one is about to be.  And I imagine before long, I too will be a grandparent. Using you and grandma as my  models.

But when we meet again, and I so hope we do, I can look you in the eye and you will be proud of me and how I lived my life. Your approval has always been my measuring stick, even though I have lived most of my life without you.

And thank you, in absentia for getting me through this mess.

I love you with all my heart.


PS – On Friday the S &P closed above 5000! Your money is heavy in tech now. It won’t make sense to you, but you can be very happy about it.