Editor’s Note: This eulogy was delivered on April 9, 2019, by Anna Bennett at the funeral of her grandfather, Jacob Breitstein, affectionately known as Poppy by all.
Thank you all for being here. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Anna and I am Jacob’s granddaughter. Over the years, I’ve written a few pieces about him, most of them painful, about memories he has shared with me about the holocaust. However, when I think of my Poppy, my first thought is not of the sufferings he endured – I think of a very special man whose strong energy was infectious to all, and that kept me laughing for all of my life. For this reason, I wanted to read an essay I wrote just under ten years ago (I was 17 and he was 87) which I feel reflects his true spirit. I love you Poppy, and I will miss and remember you fondly forever.
Poppy’s Top Tips on Preserving Youth
Everyone wishes they were a little younger. Of course, there is no method to shed twenty years, but there are certain ways to feel younger. Most people aspire to feel a little younger, like maybe…. lose a few pounds? Or decrease their cholesterol…? But my Grandpa, whom we all affectionately call Poppy, is the most youthful 87-year-old anyone will ever meet, and let me tell you, he wants everyone to know it. Fortunately for all of us, he has agreed to share his top tips that have helped him stay young all these years:
1) Never buy blush. There is an improved, healthier, longer-lasting alternative: Slap your cheeks every morning in the shower for precisely one minute. This is totally free, and totally not tested on animals (other than you). Do this and you’ll be set with a natural, rosy glow for the entire day.
2) Eat lots of fruits and vegeTABLES (as Poppy would pronounce them). Not only do fruits and vegetables help us keep our girlish figures, but they also lower the risk of a number of serious illnesses and health problems. It’s common knowledge that on the food pyramid, the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables is about five per day… But since they are so good for us, shouldn’t we bump it up to fifteen? Poppy thinks so.
3) Wake up at 5am and do exercise videos. If there’s one way to stay young, it’s to wake up bright and early and get a great boost of energy for the day ahead. Lay out your mat, and whip out your jump rope, and get set for at least an hour’s worth of exercise videos. Poppy would recommend “The Complete Workout & Stress Reduction Program” from the Jane Fonda 1982 collection – but don’t worry, Jane is timeless.
4) Do the MIRF. What is MIRF, you ask? It stands for “Multiple Infestations Removed Forever,” Poppy’s invention to live until at least the age of 115. The idea is that one must clench all the muscles in your body at the same time for at least fifteen seconds per day and then release. This will speed up the blood flow, and remove all the infestations that could have killed you. He has claimed rights to MIRF, and even submitted it to be a word in Webster’s dictionary. It was declined by the editor, perhaps due to jealously of not having invented MIRF himself.
5) Do NOT take elevators. Another chance to flaunt your energy at old age. Whenever you have a choice between taking an elevator or the stairs, opt for the stairs. You can even make a game out of this. Say your apartment is on the 9th floor of a building, and your family insists on taking the elevator. You, on the other hand, run down the nine flights as fast as you can, and just as the elevator door opens … casually appear outside with no signs of tiredness.
6) Never go out to eat. It is expensive, a hassle, and you probably make better food than they do. And most of all, they will poison you. Poppy knows this is true because he has felt sick many times after going out to eat. Thank goodness he had MIRF to save him, or else he might have died. Not to mention, restaurants don’t serve nearly enough fruits and vegeTABLES. Note: If you are forced to eat out, stick to the bread, as it is the only food at restaurants without poison.
7) Lastly, dance whenever you have the chance. When you’re 87 years old like Poppy, you must verify your ability to live until 115. So, when given the chance to dance, go crazy! Jump all over the place and say “I feel like I’m thirty!” (repeat this many times) … Doing this will make people want to imitate you and therefore MIRF. And when your friends and family are tired of dancing, just continue dancing on and on…
Poppy was always the last one on the dance floor – not only to flaunt his good health, but just because he loved to dance. He also loved to sing – and just like his dancing, he would sing whenever he felt like it.
One of his favorite songs in recent years was “Que Sera, Sera?” by Doris Day.
This translates to “What will be?” … The lyrics continue: “Whatever will be, will be. The future is not ours to see.”
I think Poppy sang this song in our company to teach us … to live in the moment and be true to ourselves … because whatever will be, will be.
I hope to live by these words and celebrate your life when I hear them. I love you Poppy.