Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I thought I'd take this opportunity to honor my grandfather, Labon Backer, a veteran of WWII.
In August we got the family together in Boston to celebrate his centennial birthday. In September he passed away peacefully.
He never had any major health drama or hospital stays, and continued to live almost entirely independently. (At the end he did finally submit to the daily care of an Israeli aide, who he kept introducing enthusiastically as a great woman and "sabra.") Recently he had been very down because of his hearing and vision loss, and also the death of a close friend. He continued to have a great mind and was frustrated by not being able to put it to use. (On the plus side, he could still follow baseball and the Red Sox gained a big fan.)
But at his party he was in the highest of spirits. He patiently posed for endless photos. He provided live commentary to an amazingly comprehensive slideshow my mom and uncle had worked up, putting us all to shame with his perfect memory. He ate hearty portions of chili, cake, and his favorite butter pecan ice cream.
He said the best thing he did in his life was marry my grandmother, Clara Morrison Backer, also a veteran (Women's Army Corp.) I'd say the feeling was mutual, judging from this, possibly the sweetest birthday card I have ever seen.
They met while stationed in the Philippines and married shortly after the war ended. He said he wore his uniform because fine clothing was still in short supply. He'd been unable to take much (any?) leave during the war so they had a nice, long, honeymoon on the army's nickel.
At the end of the centennial party he gave a short speech. Beaming, he thanked us all for making it a special day for him. He said he'd always wanted an interesting life and he was lucky enough to have had one.
You can find the whole Life of Labon here. Probably no one outside the family will have the stamina to sit through this slide show, but why not kick back, relax, and enjoy three generations of hallmark moments, awkward baby photos and stellar fashions? You may need to invent drinking games for graduations and Jewish holidays. Extra points for spotting the Cyclorama.
Anyway, in 2082 I hope to be half as satisfied with my own interesting life. And, Grandpa, if I ever marry a nice Jewish boy, I give you permission to stage an elaborate dream sequence just to gloat.