On November the 29th, 2005, a great man left this world. My grandfather, Arthur Marks. He was a loving father and grandfather, an honorable, just, and kind man. He was knowledgable in his field, upheld his belifs, and treated everyone with great respect and dignity. I miss him terribly.
This is the eulogy that I read at his funeral today.
It's simply not possible for me to say everything that I have to say about Arthur Marks, or “Buppa” as he was known to me. That's “Buppa”, not “papa”, “grampa”, or “gramps”. But “Buppa”, with a B. Because that's how I knew him as a child, and that's how I've always referred to him, and probably always will.
I had the unique experience of having Arthur as my grandfather both as a child as well as into my adult life. I have a wide range of wonderful memories. I remember him taking me to climb rocks and explore caves in what he told me were “secret places”, places that only he and I knew about. It was only later that I discovered that these places were not only everyday places, right off route nine or right behind the mall, but also places that he had taken my mother for probably the same adventures...
I treasure these memories. It doesn't matter that the places weren't really secret places. They were to me, and I will always remember them as such.
I can recall many a fishing trip that I took with him. I remember the trips when I was young, maybe 8 or 9, as well as when I was older, maybe 13 or 14. When I was younger, it was him taking me along, teaching me all he knew. And when I was older, it was me volunteering to help him out in his older age, as he had more trouble handling he boat. It was always the same, us never catching anything... his “unique” teaching style... teaching me to steer the boat, or to cast... getting frustrated with me, yet it never bothering me, and he never got angry... We always had a great time, and I remember coming home and Mom asking me how I could stand fishing with him. Think she meant “being taught by him”. I would just smile.
I loved those times. And I shouldn't have said we never caught anything. There was one time I did catch a solitary fish. He helped me unhook it and then threw it back.
I have so many great memories from my childhood. But the most powerful memories are from later in both our lives, the time that I had to spend with him as an adult. Working along side him, traveling with him, or living in his guest room for a short period of time.
That was during a very rough period in my life, when my future was uncertain and my goals were in flux. I needed some time to myself, time to grow. It was Arthur whose home I went to. He welcomed me with open arms. We each had something to give to the other.
I remember what it was like living with him. At this point in his life, he had been living alone for many years, and was still trying to adapt. For years he had lived with his wife Margerie, my grandmother who I remember fondly but not well, for she died when I was still young. He had depended on her so, and even years later, still struggled with certain things around the house. I remember how proud he would be when he would cook something for himself, or how he would love to grocery shop for me at the store. He was so happy to have a companion. And I remember teaching him little tricks that I had picked up along the way, stupid things like using fabric softener in the laundry.
I was so glad when he moved into his apartment at fox hill. His house was so lonely with just him there.
The memories I treasure more than any others are probably those I have from working alongside Arthur. I know that may sound strange, but I got such an inside look at him and his personality during the times we spent together in the store, and mostly during our two road trips down the California coast.
To see him in action was an amazing sight. To see him at eighty-something purposefully darting around the stockroom in the temple place store filling orders. He knew where every single item was. He knew what item was required for every single numeric code. 2122? That's a cuticle nipper, third shelf, two rows down. 640? Barber's shear. He amazed me on every order.
I remember working in the store. Running the elevator, that old elevator that had to be manually run, and manually leveled. I remember he had but one chair in the store, because he wanted the staff to be standing up, ready to work. Ready to serve the customers.
The most inspirational experiences I had with him were when I got to meet his wholesale customers.
He and I took two trips driving down the coast of California, in the last years of his career. We would start in San Francisco and I, not knowing anything about the business, was mainly his driver. I just don't have time to cover all of our experiences and conversations during those trips, nor would you be interested.
But it was meeting his customers that was the most amazing.
To walk into a store, the two of us as the salespeople, and to be treated with such respect, such kindness. Some of his customers paid more attention to Arthur and myself than they did to their own customers. We weren't treated like salesmen, we were treated like kings.
And that's the point. He was such a good salesman, and by that I mean a good person, that he commanded the respect and admiration of his clients. “Hello Mr. Marks! Come in! Sit Down! Can I get you a drink? Is this your Grandson? How are you? Are you going to take over the business?” He took care of them, he made sure that they had what the needed, and not what they didn't. And they saw that.
Seeing the way that he did business and how well he treated his customers has been an inspiration to me in my own business. I feel like he has set the bar, and I want to meet that. I want to live up to his standards, and make him proud. It's more than good business. He had such good character. And everyone recognized that.
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