SILBERZWEIG--Harold. Age 76. Active in political and community affairs in Roslyn, NY. Devoted to wife Arlene, sharing almost 50 years of marriage marked by family celebrations, community involvement and activities of the Reconstructionist Synagogue. He was active in shaping the lives of his sons Barry and Lloyd and his grandchildren Joseph, Bebe, Shayna and Ethan. Loving brother of JoAnn, David and Michael. Contributions: Amyloidosis Support Groups (www.amyloidosissupport.com) or the Reconstructionist Synagogue of North Shore, 1001 Plandome Rd, Manhasset, NY.
I am speaking for myself and Lloyd because Lloyd was certain that the pain would be too raw for him to express his feelings today.
Thank you all so much for coming. In a different setting, our father would have loved to be with all of you, joking and kibbitzing in his easygoing manner. With our Dad there were no pretenses - he was so easy to get along with - just a really good guy.
Our father was a bright man with varied interests. He could read a book in one day, and often did. Together with our Mom, they were involved in so many community and synagogue activities. They led a rich life in Roslyn, with many friends, countless meetings, and interests ranging from politics to schools to sports and to the Reconstructionist Synagogue. Our father was so easy to talk to; in his informal way, he started conversations easily and loved to laugh -- whether jokes were funny or not. He enjoyed kibbitzing with his friends at the Gazinta club, playing poker with the guys, talking sports and politics at holidays and family gatherings, and stopping by Pirandelos for pizza. Of course, our Dad loved the Yankees. If they get to the World Series this year, please root for the Yankees, because you know Dad would be watching.
My father faced his many years of illness with courage, defying the odds to live many years beyond the expected lifespan for Amyloids patients. He lived on to see a wedding, two bar mitzvahs, a graduation, the births of two grandchildren -- and, much to his delight, the end of the Bush Administration. Dad never complained and few people realized quite how sick he was or how much pain he endured. In his typical fashion, Dad would respond to questions about his health by joking "how should I feel - I feel lousy - I have Amyloids." Mom gave Dad the love and strength to help him carry on. With our Mom pushing and encouraging him, and often playing both nurse and doctor, Dad did not let this unforgiving illness prevent him from traveling, going to dinner, and spending quality time with family and friends. Mom and Dad had many wonderful years together. They fit together in a distinct way -- Mom initiated many of the friendships, activities and interests -- and Dad happily brought his ideas and affable style to join. Mom was starting to plan a family celebration for their 50th anniversary this July 4th.
Most of all - more than anything to us -- our Dad was just a really great father. It came naturally to Dad - he really enjoyed being a father. He was just a really great Dad. Its the late sixties and our father is lying on the living room floor making animal noises with his sons climbing on him in a game we called "fooling." He was in his prime with family barbeques and ballgames in the backyard. Dad was so handy and loved to try to teach us to fix things the way he did. Lloyd seems to have picked up a lot of it -- but I still can barely change a light bulb. Always there to help with homework - Dad always knew a better method than our Chemistry and Math teachers. Our father loved coaching our baseball and basketball teams - through last week, he still could remember details about all of our high school games. I am really going to miss our easy conversations. As he often said, he and Lloyd and I did not have to talk -- we knew what he was thinking and he always knew what we were thinking. There are so many words, phrases, and stories that were unique to us that we never will forget. Dad just got it right - he was supportive, without pushing too hard. He taught us a lot about how to be good fathers.
Of course, the only thing that our Dad enjoyed more than being a father was being a grandfather. Poppy loved every minute of it. He was there on the ground playing with the kids when we they were young. He and Mom loved the trips with Bebe and Joe through the national parks, Iceland, Costa Rica, and Alaska. He got a special joy out of his two youngest, relishing every minute of time with Shayna and Ethan as if he knew those days were numbered. Poppy mustered up the energy to drag himself, with Mom pushing, to camp visiting days in Maine and New Hampshire, and trips to California. Even when his legs no longer worked, Poppy climbed up with me to the top row of the bleachers for a better vantage point from which to watch Joe's football games. He always told me how proud he was that his "grandchildren were just such wonderful people." At the end, when Dad could no longer talk and the pain finally was far too much to bear, it was the phone calls from his four grandchildren that brought him back to life. It was not hard to see what made his heart beat.
Dad, it kills us to say goodbye. We're really going to miss you DAD
All of you knew my grandfather as Harold Silberzweig. To me, he was just Poppy. Me and my Poppy did everything together. From baseball in the backyard to trekking half way around the world, there was nothing we could not do together.
As a boy, many of my fondest memories came from 31 Planting Field Road. To this day, I can remember me and Poppy playing hide and go seek inside the Willow tree on the front lawn or running through the sprinklers or playing tetherball in the backyard. That backyard was truly my haven as a child Growing up in the city, I thought that backyard was the greatest place on earth, beside Poppy's truck. Poppy's dark blue pickup was the greatest place on earth. I used to sit in there for hours playing with his tools, pretending to drive and when I was lucky, I even got to ride shotgun with Poppy. After our time in the truck, Poppy and I used to make our way down to his tool room. Beside the backyard and the truck, that was the greatest place on earth. We used to spend hours in that grimy basement together polishing rocks, sawing obsolete pieces of wood, playing ping pong or even messing around on his typewriter.
As I got older, my interests of course changed but my relationship with Poppy remained constant, the backyard evolved from a playground into my own personal baseball diamond. Every weekend Poppy, my Dad and I used to set up bases in the backyard and, of course, use the fence in the backyard as a homerun marker. At first, I struggled to slug one out of the backyard. Later it became surprising if I didn't. I began to expect him at every one of my sporting events and often recall one game in particular. Things got real close in the ninth inning and it became apparent that I would have a chance to win the game. I approached him and told him I was nervous and he responded by asking me "Who else would you rather have up there?" I regularly think back to that instance in times of athletic or academic stress. Poppy was more than a fan. He was a mentor and scholar of the game. His love for the Yankees was apparent. I don't think you could talk to him more than 10 minutes before Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter made their way into the conversation. His love for sports was passed down to his two sons as he coached them through high school and then passed down to my sister and me.
Eventually, my passion switched to football and Poppy was there every step of the way to support me. As my Dad said, he never missed a game and my games were one of his greatest pleasures. Although sometimes critical of my play, I could always rely on Poppy to tell me how I did. Some days I would return home after a loss, barely able to walk through the front door and Poppy would ask me, "What happened on that one play when you missed the tackle in the third quarter?" That was of course rare but I could always rely on Poppy to keep me in check. Other times, he would call me after a game and say, "Wow! That play in the second when you broke a triple or quadruple team and made a tackle was amazing." That never actually happened though.
My greatest memories of childhood come from all the special trips I took with my grandparents over the years. First came the West Coast trip, then Alaska, then Costa Rica and then finally, Iceland. The memories I formed on those trips will never be forgotten. Poppy loved to reminisce about Sanchez from the cruise or the lucky Icelandic whale in the Atlantic with his Yankee hat. The trips also allowed me to bond with Uncle Lloyd and spend special time with Grandma Arlene. Grandma has been such a strong person over the past 8 years and truly deserves all the praise in the world. In the end, she was there with him 9-10 hours a day, every day for two months. Poppy and Grandma's relationship was truly loving, yet at times humorous. Their numerous Passover arguments over which prayers Poppy wanted to skip and which Grandma wanted to include were always the highlight of my Sedar, besides hiding the matzo. For 18 years, every April I did my best to hide the matzo from Poppy. Poppy loved to recall one particular Passover when I was 10 or so. I was so determined to hide the matzo from him that I decided to eat it all to be certain he couldn't find it.
Today, I stand before you mourning the loss of my Grandfather. But, I am so grateful that he was with me every step of the way for over 18 years. The people I truly feel the worst for today are not Arlene, nor Barry or Lloyd, but Ethan and Shayna. Poppy is survived by four grandchildren but only two of which were lucky enough to truly get to know him. I stand before you, a product of Harold's love, a product of Arlene's love and they helped mold me into the young man I am today. Poppy was there with me at my Bar Mitzvah, he was there with me at all my football games, he made it to my graduation but he will miss Ethan and Shayna's greatest moments. They will never experience the man I came to love over the past 18 years. Although Poppy cannot be there for them in the future, his memories will resonate with Bebe and me forever, and Ethan and Shayna will get to know their Poppy in a different way. And even though I will never smell him again, never hug him again, never hear his voice again, I will be O.K. because I will always have him in my heart.