Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The man I called Pop

Dear Eli,

Your Daddy is sitting on a bus and he loves you very much. I am on the way back to Chicago after a very long and emotional weekend in St. Louis. The family has just said goodbye to our patriarch, your great-grandfather, and one of the nicest men I have ever known.

I am making this trip by myself as you and your mom left the day after the funeral. I am glad I stayed behind. Family is one of the most important things in life. Never take them for granted.

Your Pop-Pop. my Pop, the man Mimi called Dad loved you very much. Your existence along with his other great-grandchildren gave him the motivation to live his life to the fullest until the end. He recounted just a few weeks ago that he was not ready to leave his great grandkids. It was his time to go. He was 91.

Monte Abrams was born in St. Louis in 1920. He was a big believer in the importance of education. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. There was nothing that he did not know a little about. He loved to read — fiction or non-fiction—it did not matter. Over the last week when describing your Pop-Pop to people we would say that he was our Google. Before we had search engines we had our Monte and a phone. He was the smartest man any of us knew.

He was funny too. Not in a joke telling way, but he brought out the best in all of us. My Pop would walk over to me as a boy and “steal my nose” and then flash his megawatt smile. You would get that same smile when you got caught admiring him from afar, but that also was a combined with a wink. His wink and smile I will always carry with me.

The man three called Dad was selfless. After graduating from college, but before getting to marry the love his life he answered the call of war.  He gave two and a half years so that we could live free. This country and all of the gererations that followed were built on the sacrifices of men like Pop-Pop. He never liked to talk about it. I wish I could tell him how prould I was of him.

After he came back from the war he lived the life that all strive for. Married, started a family and went to work in the family business. His life was full of friends that truly loved him. It might be idealized, but I think his life was the great American dream.

Pop meant so many things to so many people. More than just a dad, grandfather or great grandfather, he always knew when he had to fill more than those roles. He was the father Paw-Paw never had. He was more grandfather that Anut Robin and I ever needed. He was a rock in bad time as well as good.

Your Paw-Paw loves to point out how much Pop loved sports. That he was proud to have live to see all 11 World Series won by the Cardinals. He was the truest of fans. He spent most of his life rooting for the then St. Louis football Cardinals, and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two of the most long suffering fan bases ever. Never complaining about it, he keeped watching and rooting. He did finally get his football championship after over 40 years. Think about that for a secound.

My Pop was smaller in stature than the life he lead. Coming it at only 6’3” he was the one we all looked up to.  He gave me my height. I always  hoped to grow as tall, but never made it. We never tired of standing next to each other to see if I had grown. Near the end, long after my growth stopped, and time called for him to shrink we would play this game, but unlike as a kid I never wanted to surpass him. The last time we measured up I cheated a bit. I never straightened my legs. He was my Pop and I will always look up to him.

Along with his smile I can still imagine his hands. Large and strong, able to reach high to get things off the top shelf. Agile and nimble able to fix anything, or so we thought.  They were attached to his strong arms that were good at hugging. I am going to miss them.

If I had one wish, it would be for you to live the kind of life that Pop lived. He died surrounded by a loving family and friends. He had a full life. The words in this letter could never live up to the man. We as his legacy will have to do that. This is a big challenge for such a small boy, but it's one that we must take up. Your Mimi and Paw-Paw will help show you the way. The leseons that my Pop taught me will be passed down to you. Live your life to the fullest, in the end, that what Pop-Pop wanted for you. 



Monroe (Monte) Abrams, died May 31, 2012 at age 91. Beloved husband of Gloria Abrams; dear son of the late Robert and Bertha Abrams; dear father and father-in-law of Jane (Michael) Shook, Thomas Abrams and Mary (Robert) Kodner; dear grandfather of Lisa (Matthew) Steinkamp, Betsy (Chad) DeMarco, Tina Merrill, Erin (Mathew) Sameck, Lauren (Zoey) Engel, Robin and Kenton (Emily) Kodner; dear great-grandfather of Ethan Steinkamp, Sophia and Dax DeMarco, Stella Overstreet, Harrison Sameck, and Elias Kodner; dear brother and brother-in-law of Stanley (Ann) Abrams, the late Robert (late Deedy) Abrams and Steven (Brenda) Burack.


  1. What a lovely eulogy. I'm sorry about your grandpa, Kenny. He was a sweet man. xo

  2. Beautiful post. So sorry to hear about your Grandpa.

    Hope you have a wonderful birthday today!