By Brad Karlin
The moment I saw the “off duty” roof light in the distance, I knew that Pop and I would soon be sitting side by side at Nathan’s eating hot dogs and French fries. I learned a lot on those Saturday afternoons.When I was young, my peers would journey to the arcade on Saturday afternoons to play Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. But not me. I chose to wait behind for my grandfather and his shiny yellow taxi.
He was always there for me, teaching me when I was not aware I was being taught, supporting me when I didn’t realize I needed it most.
By his example, he taught me the importance of being there for those who you love.
Despite working close to 15 hour days 6 days a week as a New York City taxi driver to provide for his family, he left wherever he was in Manhattan at 7:00 am and 3:00 pm every day to take me to, and pick me up from, my from my high school in Queens.
Over the years, Pop and I remained the closest of friends. As he got older and suffered from the loss of my dear grandmother, his one and only true love, we only became closer.
I lived with him during my summers off from college and taught myself to cook so that I could make dinner for us. I also regularly joined him to lead the “snow-bird” drive down to Florida and back up to New York so that he could spend the winter months in warmth with his sister. My favorite days were those spent talking about the simplicities of early bird dinners and Jack Benny and Ed Sullivan with Pop and his family in Boca Raton.
I miss my Pop more than written words could ever convey. He remains a part of me — not in a clichéd sense of the expression — but in many of my core values and even mannerisms I recognize in myself. He will always be the source of the good I see in the world and that I try to bring to others.
We caught up with Brad recently, who shared with us that it was his relationship with his grandfather that inspired his life calling. Dr. Karlin is now Chief of Mental Health and Aging at the Education Development Center, Inc., and spends his days working to improve mental health and dementia care for older adults in public and private health care systems.