A Farewell to Arthur

July 18, 2017
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My grandfather’s death came as a brutal shock, a poignant realization of childhood fears and recent tensions. That he passed away was no great surprise in itself. Arthur had a long, fruitful life, and its end was almost merciful in light of the sharp decline that he suffered due to Alzheimer’s. What shocked me was the notion that the one thing we always dread but can never fully make ourselves believe in had finally occurred. I have finally experienced death, and the secret illusions of human immortality that I have selfishly clung to for all these years are destroyed. My grandpa is dead--has been dead for some time now, ever since he lost his understanding of the world around him--and I still can’t believe it. The face of the family patriarch--a man whose playful disposition and general compassion made him a strong, if distant, presence in my life--lies limp in a casket, a useless lump of flesh. 

I only know some details of the final years of Arthur’s life, and I saw him infrequently enough that the memories I have of him are brief, limited snippets. The joy I felt as a child upon visiting him at “The Big House” with its happy days and times of endless laughter--the dogged, hopeless faith that he placed in the Mets, a fervor that only a true-blooded Brooklynite could know--the boisterous way in which he breathed life into the corniest of jokes--these are the memories of my grandfather that I will always hold with me.

Arthur was by no means perfect; he wasn’t always the best at being a father, or grandfather, and his unique disposition had the potential to cross the line into insensitivity--but from the limited time I spent with him, I feel certain that my grandfather meant the best for his family, and earnestly tried to make the most of life before he was snatched away by the effects of time and mortality.

I would like to end this eulogy by citing one recurring memory I have of Arthur, one that has proved to be a more enduring reflection of his character than I could have suspected. When I was a young child, my grandfather would often open our conversations with a cry of “King David!”-- a cringe-worthy nickname that I foolishly scoffed at whenever he used it. In his mind my younger sister Rachel was a princess and he was King Arthur—a metaphor that speaks volumes about how he felt for us and is a surprisingly apt analogy for the story of his life. I believe that grandpa was a tragic hero at heart, an earnest man struggling to overcome his faults and handicaps--and like all tragic heroes, he met a sad demise in the end.

I wish that I had placed more value on the time that I spent with you, grandfather, and I know that I was not always the most affectionate of grandsons in your time. But I loved you nonetheless, and it has been truly difficult to come to terms with your death. I do know one thing that gives me comfort: the fact that, like the Once and Future King himself, you are bound to rise again in the achievements of the generations that you helped to create.

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