In honor of my grandfather's 80th birthday celebration at the Flagstaff House this weekend, I have prepared a brief scrapbook entry on his behalf. Enjoy!
Some of my favorite memories with Yayta naturally revolve around sports. Attending games of all kinds (Rockies, Broncos, Nuggets, Avs, Buffs...the list goes on). Watching games and, from an early age, getting scores (an art perfected by Joe and I that our younger cousins, one in particular have failed to emulate)...whether in a restaurant, a bar, at home, in the car. However, there is so much more to our grandfather than athletic events (although some might argue otherwise).
Ever since I have been little, I remember Yayta leading conversations about matters close to his heart: medicine, politics, Israel, family, morality, and history. I was always struck by his memory, his intense passion that accompanied his interests, and most of all, his ability to interact with and relate to people of allkinds. As much as he may kvetch about some of his colleagues or favored celebrities (the Broncos Elf, the Barrelman, Dinger, and Brian Fuentes come to mind), it is obvious that Yayta is a social creature; he lives and thrives with the company of others. I have been all over the world with him and seen and experienced a range of cultures, and there is no one else I know who can light up a room or bring a smile to someone's face faster than my Yayta. He can relate to my friends as easily as he does to his own generation, and he is incredibly accepting and welcoming (most of the time) of all kinds of people, dot dot included.
I have always loved finding out things about Yayta’s past – well, almost always. But seriously, I can remember some great times that were devoted to digging through his basement or his office with Joe trying to find relics that we could enjoy. His books of signatures are probably my favorites, along with his ticket and book collections. Hearing stories both from and about him have been surprising, hilarious, and inspiring, as my cousin Becca might agree, but one thing is for sure – there is never a dull moment when it comes to Yayta. Stories in particular command a central part of his aura, if such a thing exists, and everybody, from his closest family members and friends to recently new acquaintances, has a story to tell about their time with Yayta.
The best, though, is being with Yayta when he is in his element. This is shown in a variety of ways, from places, events, and situations that bring out the best in him. His staples, to me, are very notable. Some of my favorites include Cherry Garcia, Jellybeans, his wine cellar, poker games, Vegas, Barry and Phil, the Breakfast Inn, a nonfat latte with no foam, awesome ties, great sweaters, the morning paper, making the rounds, liver and onions, any kind of deli food, shooting hoops before the backboard broke after Joe’s bar mitzvah, favorite lunch spots downtown, his undeniable priority in the ultimate value of family, cheese danishes, Good and Plenty, listening to the radio before and immediately after a game, never staying past the seventh inning of a Rockies game, leaving early to beat traffic, Diet Coke, corned beef, Snapple, pickles, always being on time, (well, almost always), everything to do with leading the Passover seder ($100 dollar bills, leading the service, hiding the afikomen, initiating the always efficient family discussions), dancing the foxtrot with Judy, Frisco, phone conversations about anything, especially football, Vail, shopping for clothes, always attending the sporting events and productions of his grandchildren, the endless, repetitive, sayings, “Yaytaisms,” (“See his number…that’s his IQ”, “you’re number one”, “stupid”, “Zero – Zero, who’s winning? – Zero” among my favorites), always the reliable, consistent, amazing person and grandfather that he is. His remarkable presence and perspective confronting both the heights of life and the lows of death. His unbelievable generosity and defense of the values he stands for. A mensch in every sense of the word. He is truly an inspiration to me, and to us all.
I love you so very much Yayta, I hope your eightieth year is as action-packed and entertaining as the previous seventy nine surely were, and thank you for all that you do and represent as the backbone of this remarkable family of ours.
With much love,