Papa Jiddi

We’re all back at home on Long Island, after a lovely week on Martha’s Vineyard. The weather here is gray, but soon school ends and we’ll get to go back to our “real home” (as the kids call their grandmother’s house on the island). My father, Salim Chalfoun, was the one who came up with the idea to move to the Vineyard. As a child in Beirut, Lebanon, he spent his summers either up in the mountains, or at an aunt’s house in Syria. There, he enjoyed playing with his cousins, visiting his extended family, and all the pleasures of getting out of the city. He wanted that for his grandchildren, and he realized that the small house he and my mom had in New York wouldn’t do. He pictured somewhere vacation-like, with lots of bedrooms so all the grandchildren always had a room waiting for them. He called the house a “grandparent trap”. He meant a place so wonderful, it would lure all the grandchildren to visit frequently. I think it was a quirk of his English that he didn’t realize that made it a “grandchildren trap”–because he was luring ¬†grandchildren, not grandparents. Regardless, his plan worked.

“Papa Jiddi” Salim did live long enough to meet all his grandchildren, though my daughter was too young when he died to remember him properly. But my son remembers Papa Jiddi, and we have pictures of Salim feeding them pita bread, walking hand in hand on the beach, and enjoying their visits to his “grandparent trap”.