Hope everybody had a great Fourth of July Weekend!
After making G-MO and Michael come into work last Friday (some Holiday!), LuLu and I packed up and caught a plane to Dallas. I am originally from Dallas, but moved out to Southern California over fifteen years ago.
Most of my family is still back in Dallas and we have owned and operated a skatepark out there called Eisenbergs Skatepark for about thirteen years. Every summer I go back to Dallas to help teach at our skatepark’s summer camp and LuLu always comes with me.
My grandfather, on my dad’s side, Grandpa Joe, was the first one to start talking about opening a skatepark back in the day. I remember driving out to potential locations with him and brainstorming ideas. Unfortunately Grandpa Joe passed away in 1991 and never got to see the skatepark built that would eventually bear our family name.
My grandfather’s birthday was July 4th, Independence Day, so LuLu and I went with my Dad and his wife and my sister and her family to visit Grandpa Joe’s grave site.
Grandpa Joe was buried next to his wife, my grandmother, Grandma Billie. Her given name was Ann, but everyone called her “Billie” because allegedly she was mean like a billy goat. My daughter LuLu got my grandmother’s name, Ann, for her middle name and my sister’s son Noah was given the middle name Joe to honor my grandfather.
Grandpa Joe was buried next to two of his brothers who had died decades before. My name, Arlo, was chosen, in part, to honor my great uncle, Alex Eisenberg, who died the year I was born.
The back of the headstones were written in Hebrew. This one says Eisenberg.
This one says, “WESTSIIIIIDE!!!”
Visiting the cemetery turned out to be pretty amazing. I was perhaps a little skeptical about going initially because I tend not to be too sentimental about spiritual (or superstitious) things.
The mistake that I made was in presuming that remembering or talking about someone would in itself be a sufficient way to remember lost loved ones, without having to deign to participate in superfluous rituals. What I realized at the cemetery was that my own naive and perhaps cynical perspective could not have been more off the mark.
Being on site and at the cemetery engaged us all in a way that merely storytelling or remembering alone could not have. It was immediate and interactive and provided a tangible panorama that brought us all into the story. My daughter and my nephew were invested, they wanted to know more. The surrounding graves told a story of our family and of our heritage and tied us to a greater community.
I would like to thank my father for taking us all out there to visit the graves of Grandpa Joe and Grandma Billie.
It was like visiting a museum that was telling the story of our lives.
Happy Birthday Grandpa Joe!