Gramps turned 80.
It’s been a long awaited affair that started with
frantic calls from my brother a little pre-planning, had some tears thrown in (I love family planning) and included a grand finale (we come through in the end!).
We went all out for him.
The original idea was to take him fishing – his favorite activity. As a kid, my family would go up north for a little cabin-living during the summers and gramps would catch the fish that would feed us for weeks. Days were spent
watching Bewitched Re-runs swimming and trying to grab the fishing rod being grandpa’s little helpers.
At the last minute though, the wish to make this big milestone unforgettable took us away from the lake and had us putting on black-tie appropriate attire.
5 days before the big day, my grandma and I engineered a plan that involved live music, pretty dresses, dancing, toasts and mountains of our favorite Ukrainian food.
80, after all, deserves more than a trip to the lake.
Once the night of the big event came, it was time to begin our favorite tradition: toasting the person of honor.
I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that little bro and I were prepared to bestow love on Gramps.
As I’ve mentioned before, my family has been through a good bit. There have been divorces, re-marriages, riffs, deaths and re-organizations of sorts. It’s been a long road. When I’m not busy filming them for my made-for-TV-movie (MTV are you reading this?), I’m sitting around like a cocker spaniel with my head cocked to one side in disbelief.
My life is kind of like Modern Family. The traditional family unit we are not. But serious undeniable love there is.
Good thing this band of misfits is really good at pouring it straight from the heart.
My dad was up first (always) and delivered a speech about the make-up of the family unit and that regardless of life’s changes, my grandpa and he will always be family.
Little bro gave a speech inspired by Will Ferrell in Old School during which he yelled “you are a legend” multiple times and pointed at Gramps. I have no comment.
Uncle began his toast by giving a summary of every major event that occurred around the world in the year 1933. He ended the toast by likening Gramps to Christopher Columbus and reminding everyone that without Grandpa’s pioneering efforts, we would have never immigrated to America. According to the story, after Grandpa’s first trip to the U.S., he came back and announced “one can live there,” after which, my immediate family, aunt, uncle, grandparents, great grandparents and cousin colonized the USA in mid-1991 (and subsequently learned to live off the new land by shopping at Kmart, Farmer Jack (R.I.P.) and CVS Pharmacy).
I spoke last. I reminisced about the forts Gramps and I used to build out of pillows in Kiev, the 8 AM Saturday morning wake-ups during my competitive figure skating years and the adamant stance he takes on loving grandma and making them one unit. Grandpa was always my hero as a little girl. I thought he could move mountains.
There were tears. There was laughter. There was caviar. There was love.
Gramps was beaming all night and even stayed up partying past midnight.
Not bad family.
*Note: Clearly I had a momentary awkward stage as a baby before I became this 4-year old beauty. OK I don’t want to hear anything more about it.