Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Fatherless, I entered this world, but you took me and held me in your arms.

When, at three-years-old, I returned from Nigeria, sick with malaria and suffering from the trauma of being robbed and my mother kidnapped, you protected me and provided me with a safe haven.

As a horrible disease viciously attacked and weakened my little body, you were there to pick me up when I fell.  You gently brushed off my bruised and bloody legs and wiped the tears from my face, while swallowing your own heart-broken tears.

At home, I was beaten and abused by a stepfather, who despised my existence, but at your home, I was cherished.  Your love kept him from ever defeating me.

At four-years-old, you, gladly, allowed me to paint your toenails during your five o’clock cocktail and paint your face after you had passed out from a long day’s work.

While I was too weak to play sports in school, you took me fishing, rafting, sledding, swimming and snow skiing.  You insisted that I could do anything I wanted.

When my father and stepfather refused to financially support me, each year, you invested money in a college savings fund for me, so that I could, one day, fulfill my dreams.

In a society, which taught me that I was only capable of staying at home for the rest of my life, you and Grandma took me to see the world and encouraged me to be everything I could be.

You came to every award ceremony, graduation and concert of mine, and stood with a proud heart and tearful eyes in my honor.

When I converted to Judaism and abandoned the religion with which I was raised, you did not reject me, but rather began to have a profound love and respect for the Jewish people and the state of Israel.

You were at my bedside in Atlanta after five kidney surgeries and tightly held my hand after brain surgery in Israel.

You have given me strength during times of weakness.  You have carried me when I couldn’t walk.  You have given me support during times of despair.  You have protected me in times of fear and vulnerability.  You have loved me more than I could ever expect a father to love his own child.

This year, on your birthday, Grandpa, I am grateful to have you in my life and my family.  Thank you for holding me in your arms throughout what has been a very difficult and heart-wrenching life.  Thank you for filling my heart with love and joy.  Because of you, I have never felt the absence of a father, but have rather felt the presence of a wonderful grandfather.

I love you.  Happy 77th birthday!                                                      


7 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

  1. Kami,
    I did not know of the previous surgeries you had to endure. I have loved your grandmother and grandfather since meeting them at camp. You have been so blessed to have them in your life.
    Love you,

  2. What a wonderful tribute to your Grandfather. One he truly deserves. How he loves you. And you remembered all those wonderful things he allowed you to do to him in front of friends yet. Of course it choked me up but it was a really good choke.

  3. Oh Ariella!
    You made my eyes water again! Richard, I’m sure it’s all true and more! I’ve seen the incredible bond of love between you and it is an inspiration and glory for everyone who knows you both. Thank you both, that I got to be a tiny part of your lives.

  4. Obviously Grandpa and Grandma are Angels who cared for and looked after one of their kind.

    No surprise then that you came to recognized the God of Love and joined His ranks.

  5. That is the most beautiful birthday gift anyone could ever get. I’m sure your sensitive, loving Grandfather is shedding a few (hundred) tears about now. I’ve heard it said that you love your grandchildren more than your own; I would say that you were certainly able to pull on his heart strings like no other. It’s been beautiful to see my father express his love to you. I can live vicariously through that! I think you said it best that he insisted you could do ANYTHING you wanted and he and your beloved Grandmother did everything in their power to make sure it happened! We are really blessed to have them in our lives……

  6. Ariella,
    This is one of the most touching and inspirational letters I have ever read…what a wonderful grandfather you have. Your mother is very special to me and I feel that I got to know you through her…thank you for all of your postings, they all have touched my heart. You are indeed a very special young lady…may God bless and touch your life. Melissa Baker

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