A Tribute to Poppa Seymour
I want to give thanks to, and honor my grandpa. Thanks for the profound impact he has had on my life, and who I have become because of him.
When I was 9 years old, my parents and I went on a cruise vacation. We were at sea traveling from port to the next one when all of a sudden the power went out. There we were. No land in sight. The power out meant no hot food, no nighttime entertainment, no nothing. In fact, when we had to pee, we had to use the flashlight on the edge of our life jackets. They didnt know what had happened. And I had one question: Mom, Dad, will I ever get to see grandma and grandpa again?
Growing up my grandma and grandpa would take me to the mall every Saturday. Since I went to a religious Jewish school, (but wasn’t as observant as I could have been) I didn’t have many friends to play with on the weekend. My grandparents became my best friends.
Spending each weekend with them, I was their student. My grandma taught me the importance of beauty and fashion. My grandpa was the original computer geek. We would go to the mall every Saturday and while my grandma and I shopped for clothes, my grandpa shopped for books and software. Every Saturday he waited patiently on his bench and read his new book while my grandma and I went to our stores.
My grandpa taught me how to use the computer in the 1980s. My love for technology and for being an early adapter – in life – comes from watching my grandpa and his passions, and taking his lessons, both spoken and unspoken. Learn by watching. Learn by listening. Learn by doing.
After the mall, we would drive to the diner where my grandparents would play 40s and 50s music in the car. I would picture them dancing together to their music they were the GREATEST dancers on the planet. When they started to dance, people would clear the dance floor just to watch.
–When my grandpa was in the hospital, my grandma and I played mack the knife their song, and chatta nooga choo-hoo our song.–
At the diner, Jeff, our waiter, not only knew us, but he knew I would be eating French toast with powdered sugar on the side make that extra powdered sugar, and as powdered sugar tends to splatter, you can imagine what my outfit looked like every time we left the diner. During these weekly brunches, my grandpa would ask me about life and tell me about older times. And we would plan what we would build together later that day.
My grandpa’s lifetime hobby was collecting trains and creating, building, and designing train tracks and villages in his basement. It made the perfect setting for us to play together and bond.
He and I would work on a project EVERY Saturday. Each project taught me to focus and follow directions. They (and he) taught me to pay attention to details. I built houses and storefronts that could sit on the railroad tracks. Some of them had more than 1000 pieces in the box. It was like Legos on steroids. I still love playing with Legos and think about our basement days every time I do.
Two days ago, in my grandpas honor, I went home and built an Ikea cabinet I know he would be proud. The creative challenge takes me back to my childhood, it takes me back to my grandpa’s basement, and takes me back to wonderful memories and life lessons.
After a few basement years, the train tracks and the layouts got very sophisticated. My grandpa and I made a huge mountain out of papier-mch. I didn’t even realize that something so cool looking could be made out of paper. Somehow he knew exactly what to do, how to shape the paper, and create the mountain so that it had the right bumps on the right peaks and valleys and the right shape. It even had a tunnel that the train could go through!
Before the mountain existed, there was a bunch of flat tracks. No pizzazz. After it was completed, I looked at the mountain and realized we were able to build something of tremendous magnitude. Out of paper! It was an incredible accomplishment.
AM (or what I refer to as after mountain), whenever I arrived at my grandparents, we would park in the garage, enter through the basement and then make our way upstairs to the main house. On our way in each and every time, I got to pass by my mountain. I looked at it a few days a week.
NOTE: I loved going to my grandparents house and I CHOSE to go there more than once a week. In fact, I tried to go every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
I always looked at my mountain with pride. Sometimes I would touch it to feel my pride, but just by looking at it, and believe me I looked at it every time went to the house, I was proud of my accomplishment and my grandpa.
My grandpa was a great teacher, and and he knew how to challenge me. Funny, he really wanted me to become a Girl Scout, but I told him no because there was no badge for shopping. And sleeping outside in a tent was not really me. Wait, does The Four Seasons makes tents? Ill ask my grandma.
My grandpa taught me to focus, work hard, dedicate time to a project, to pay attention to details, and COMPLETE IT. He made me challenge myself.
He also gave me a love for exploration and travel. We made many trips to the mountains to visit Aunt Frieda and Uncle Irving. And we would always stop at a hobby store on our way so I could get some arts and crafts to do when we arrived. Our weekend stays were a lot of fun.
My grandparents traveled the world together. My grandpa convinced my parents to take me out of school so that the family could take a cruise through the panama canal. I got to stay in the presidential suite with my grandparents and I was one of only 2 children on the entire cruise. Poppa taught me about different cultures, history and that to learn about the world, you need to see the world.
Poppa Seymour gave me love of stuff, not just love of him. My love for technology, my love for trains, and my passion to stay in front of trends all comes from my grandpa.
He always used to say, JB, everything you need to know can be learned from a book. I loved reading and so whenever I needed to know something, I searched for a book on the subject. Before the Internet, I would go to the library numerous times following his advice, and found everything I needed to know from books. Well, ALMOST everything (wink!).
But most important of all, my grandpa taught me about friendship. My grandparents have had the most amazing life-long friendships. People THEY have been friends with forever, have become like aunts and uncles to me.
Thanks Grandpa for giving me your gifts, your friendship and your unconditional love for the past 32 years.
My grandpa was my mentor, my inspiration, and my role model. And my grandpa was my friend.
What more could you ask for from your dads dad?