I cried and choked my way through eulogizing my grandpa at his funeral. I hate funerals. I know, who doesn’t, right? More specifically, I hate how I behave at funerals and how my mind wanders because I just don’t know how to act when I’m somewhere I don’t want to be. Basically, I’m nobody’s emotional “rock.”
Anyway, here’s my tribute:
Some people watch Growing Up Gatti on TV, but I’ll take Growing Up Golpe any day. Thanks to my Grandpa Jerry, I experienced a sense of entitlement and good, old-fashioned spoiling I thought reserved for very few privileged kids. He had the house with the in-ground pool, the Cadillac, his own shop with a bunch of people working for him (including me at times… and probably half the people in this room!), he traveled, golfed incessantly, threw awesome holiday parties, and gave me cool presents. He took me fun places (most of which also had a full bar), and if I caused trouble, sometimes he would not-so-politely tell the staff that I wasn’t hurting anybody. Luckily for me, he always had what seemed like an endless supply of quarters for video games. But the coolest part was that every person, in every joint he took me to, knew him. I used to think it was so odd that all these strangers acted like they also knew ME, shaking my hand, calling me by name everywhere we went, until I realized it’s because Grandpa Jerry bragged about me. ALL. THE. TIME.
Over the years, I began to piece together a method to the madness of the abundant lifestyle he heaped on all of us. The pool, parties, gifts, trips, and even giving us jobs around the shop: they were all just devices intended to bring us together and keep us close as a family — and it worked! I loved swimming at his house and playing in his basement. I loved bowling with him at Pastime in the shoes he bought me for my birthday. I loved golfing with him with the clubs he gave me, and hanging out at Hillcrest, lookin’ fly in the blue blazer I got from him one Christmas. I think he loved to spoil me rotten, and he did it in a way that included me in his “larger-than-life” life, and that made me feel six feet tall. [Which is a big deal since, at 5’9”, I’m one of the shorter Golpe grandsons.]
I think my favorite personal story about Grandpa Jerry is this: One day, he was looking garishly handsome as usual, I greeted him with a hug and kiss and told him he looked nice and that I liked his tie. He literally gave it to me right off his neck.
[I wore the tie as a pall bearer for his funeral — click to enlarge photo]