Back when he turned 99, many of you sent him postcards in the mail. 99 postcards for 99 years. He absolutely loved getting messages from people he knew and people he didn't (and people he thought he should know, but worried he didn't remember). It was so exciting, he said, to open his mailbox.
November 2009, with my nephew Judah
And then he said he should probably give the mailman a holiday present, for delivering all those cards from all over the country, and the world (he received nearly 200).
Popa Al loved to play pool and poker with the other "fellows" in the (non-assisted living) retirement complex where he lived. In fact, the last time my mom spoke with him a few days ago, he was happy to talk, but then he had to get to his poker game. He liked to tell us how he sometimes beat those younger fellows, those spring chickens in their 80s.
May 2007, with Elan
Even after my Nana died, Popa used to come visit my family in California for several weeks a year. He traveled well into his 90s. And the walking he used to do! I remember one time in San Diego, we started to get a little worried because he was gone for so long. When he came back, he said it was such a beautiful day, he just kept walking. And walking. And walking. And then he took a little rest sitting on a bench looking at the ocean. And then he walked back.
He loved to be with his family, and he was quite content to sit in the middle of the family hub-bub and just soak it in. He couldn't hear very well, and he was always very stubborn about not wearing a hearing aid, which did seem to serve him pretty well when surrounded by the chaos of 3 children, 3 children-in-laws, 6 grandchildren and associated husbands/wives/partners, and 9 great-grandchildren.
100th Birthday Party, November 2009
He liked to talk to you, hear what was going on in your life. And he also just liked to soak up the ambiance of family.
He liked to eat.
October 2007, out to lunch with Elan
And he liked parties too.
the patriarch of the family
Of course our impressions of our grandparents are always uniquely rooted in our particular relationship, but I can honestly say that, to me, Popa Al has always been an example of how to live a peaceful, loving life, to enjoy simple pleasures, to focus on the positive and appreciate the blessings you have.
He was a pretty amazing spirit, my Popa Al. How lucky we were to have him here for 101 years.