Opa, you will always be the man with the perfectly manicured lawn, the weeping willows that blow in the wind. Waving a top your big John Deer tractor; in shorts and white socks, that covered your farmers tan, right below your knees, on your skinny little chicken legs.
You will always be the man so jolly with that glimmer of mischief in your eyes. The teaser, the walk-behind-you-neck-pincher. The man who built our whole lives with his hands: my dolly’s bassinet, my mom’s toilet bowl cover, all of our musical piggy banks with our names on them that were impossible to open. Even that weird woodpecker toy thing with one of your chickens feathers as its tail. The swing in your back yard, the garden that I learned to pick, shuck and love peas in. The multiple clocks that would keep me up at night…it was either that or your monstrous snore.
One could look at your life as a child of the Holocaust, an immigrant, and now a victim of Alzheimer’s as one of tragedy, but I prefer to think of your life as the beginning of your legacy. We may not always have the house you built but we will always have the family that you built. Your hard work ethic, your craftsmanship, your mischievous spirit and even your laugh will be echoed in our generations and those to come…forever.
For my Opa: Henry Najman Newman I love you forever.
Written for his memorial in August of 2010.