March 6, 2014. A day that started out as a normal Thursday and quickly escalated into the day that I lost my first grandparent and the world lost a great man.
I never knew the young Sidney. The oldest memory I have of you is when we’d spend summers on the shores of Marblehead riding bikes and going crabbing on the rocky ledges of Devereux Beach. That’s the only way I can differentiate “young” Sidney from 80-year-old Sidney; your ability to be more active and the greater forgiveness your knees used to be able to give. But your wit, your humor, your knowledge, your love, even your sharp memory, never missed a beat from the younger version of you.
That’s partly what makes me so sad. You weren’t ready to go. Sure, your body hurt like hell and was constantly acting up in pain, but a body is just a body. As you proved to be true last year with your hip replacement, a body can be replaced and repaired. I know that if you had gotten to the point where you were hobbling around with a walker and you couldn’t drive or play pool anymore, you would have been miserable. I’m glad you never had to experience that. And I know that you died exactly how you wanted to and in the most peaceful way possible: in your sleep in your own bed. But there’s a happy medium and you weren’t there yet. We weren’t ready to say goodbye. That’s what makes it so hard.
As our family all discussed last weekend during your funeral and Shiva, you were our rock, sturdy as always. You were the force holding so many things together. You were the glue in the world that you had always searched for. You were, in our minds, dinosaur-like, adapting to and living through all of the tough obstacles that life threw in your way, and we just assumed you would always be there. I never even questioned that my visit to Florida over Christmas would be the last time I would see you.
As I said, I never knew the young Sidney like a lot of people did, including my dad and uncles. But what I do know about you, my Zaydee, is that you truly knew who you were, in a way that I can only hope I achieve one day myself. You were a spiritual man. Not religious, but spiritual. Through meditation, you found a way to connect your mind and body in such an incredible way. You were the son of a strong single mother. The proud father and grandfather, or patriarch, as you always like to say, of quite the clan of 17 and counting. You were a fixer, a problem solver, a do-it-yourselfer. You were an artist and a writer. You were a nurturer of both animals and hospice patients. You were active and athletic, for as long as your body let you be. Most importantly, for the sake of all of us, you were a bold seventeen-year-old who swept a young girl off her feet and never looked back. Now here we are, fast-forwarded sixty years.
What makes me happy, is that I know none of your family have any regrets. We so thankfully got to see you frequently and talk to you in between visits, and there is nothing we could have possibly done better. We carry with us pictures, writings and memories. But we also all hold a piece of you. For me, it’s your love for the written word and your dry sense of humor that shows through the most. For my brothers, I see your engineering mind. Your charisma and sense of caring. Your incredible intellect. In my cousins, you also shine through. Whether it’s your dark skin that those lucky ones inherited, your spirituality, your humor, your sense of purpose and love for family—it’s all there. So no matter where you are now, with us, you’re still living. We will always hold the Bolotin name and pass it along down the generations. You will be greatly missed. I hope that wherever you are, your joints don’t hurt you anymore.