Monday, June 25, 2007

Sy Brenner Celebrates 85 Years

Over the weekend, Sy Brenner, a WWII vet, former P.O.W., and genuine hero, celebrated his 85th birthday with family and friends in San Diego.

Family members were asked to contribute a memory, a snippet of words, an anecdote for the occasion.

Dear Old Dad (aka The Ancient One, Blessed Be He) was in attendance and recounted the event here. My contribution was not going to be Billyblog'ged, but the Ancient One prompted me in his post, so I shall share. It's a personal, prosey poem, and most likely means most to those who know and love Sy Brenner, as a friend, husband, father, and grandfather (or, in this case, as a zaidi). The poem follows the photo, taken in January 11, 2007, in San Diego, with Sy and Resa, his wife of 58 years (and my bubbi, as well).

“Instant Zaidi” for Sy Brenner, on his 85th birthday

Instant Zaidi: just add water
(Or get your dad to marry a zaidi's daughter).

When I met you, you were
Already family.
(I think. It was complicated)
When Donna married Leon,
you were promoted to Zaidi.

I became the first grandchild
at the age of 13.
You missed the cute baby phase,
the terrible twos
and all those other fun cute
adorable years.

I was a step-grandson but you
never treated me like anything
but a "full-blooded" family member.

Your kindness makes me smile.
Your jokes reminded me of
my Florida grandfather.
But I could talk about baseball
with you.
I loved coming to your house,
Hanging out, watching baseball on a big TV,

throwing a soggy tennis ball
with Mickey, listening to your stories.

Time passed, other grandchildren
entered the world. I still felt that bond,
I was the first one to call you Zaidi;
you were the first one to let me.

I never met my namesake,
Instant Zaidi, you were a worthy replacement.

I wasn't a Dodger fan when we met, Instant Zaidi,
I was a Tigers fan.
For a Padres fan, I'm sure that made me
a bit more lovable. (And you still liked
me after the '84 World Series).

As I grew into a full-fledged teenager,
you were still my Zaidi, although
trying to explain to kids in Hawaii
what a bubbi and zaidi were
proved challenging.

Coming to college in Southern California
meant I saw you even more.
So much so that I don't really remember
any Passovers from 1986 to 1997
when I wasn't at a seder with you. Thanksgivings too.

Melanie remembers
her first Thanksgiving
in the Brenner home.
A Thanksgiving food fight.
No, that’s not the right word,
Food skirmish,

Ronnie covering your head
With whipped cream
Then holding Sadie the dog up
So she could lick it off.
We rolled in the aisles.

I always remember laughter
whenever we came to visit.

Ten years ago we headed East,
And I took away
Your first great grandchildren.

To Jolee and Shayna
You have always been Zaidi
(so you were instant Zaidi
the moment they were born).

When last I saw you and Bubbi just back in January,
I was in town for some unpleasant work:
a surprise closing of an office.
But Seth drove down, picked me up
And we drove out to see you,
Popped in and surprised you.

That twinkle in your eyes
When you saw us and smiled,
canceled out the earlier events of the day.

We stayed and chatted for a bit
Before heading back to L.A.
I still can’t get over
How happy you were to see us:
How wonderful I felt
Knowing that the detour to see you
Was well worth the trip.
Your smile and embrace
transporting me North,
and remaining with me
on the flight home to New York.

You started off as an Instant Zaidi,
But you became just Zaidi,
Have epitomized zaidi-ness
for thirty-six years
and now you are Always Zaidi,
will always be Zaidi,
today, tomrrow
and forever.

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