Be a friend to man

Saint Patrick’s Day always reminds me of my grandfather Jaju. Jaju, even though his name was the Polish version of grandfather, was 100% Irish. I have written about him before, and think of him every day. When he passed away, my family was never the same. To say that he was the glue, the soul, and the heart of our family would be a perfect description. He was our beacon.


He was a proud Irishman. He was in the Army, he was a boxer, a politician, a business owner, a plumber, a friend, a husband, a father, and the best grandfather. Everything he did, he did with zest, a smile and determination. He loved his Irish music, Polish polkas,  jokes, and wore his name with pride. His joy came from his family’s accomplishments.  My son is named after him and my two daughters’ names are reflected in his Irish heritage. He would have marveled at P’s Irish dancing, my son’s exuberance and my Little F’s gentle disposition.


At his funeral, I wrote his eulogy. It was the most important event of my life, besides having my children, because it was one of his most important events of his life.  How could I ever explain what he meant to us? How could the words spoken of him equal in meaning and importance to him? Jaju had an uncanny ability to memorize Irish limericks, songs, and poetry. We would sit and listen to him as he recited them by heart. Here is what I said that cold November day. His favorite poem. As I read it now, I can still hear his voice recite these words.

The House by the Side of the Road

THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat
Nor hurl the cynic’s ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.
Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
Sam Walter Foss

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Jaju.

poem via Poets’ Corner – Sam Walter Foss – Selected Works.


8 thoughts on “Be a friend to man

  1. That is beautiful Amy. I’m sure he is watching you and is very proud of your accomplishments and the full-of-life exuberance you have instilled in your children. I am sure he is smiling because of you!

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I never knew you had an Irish grandfather. He sounds like her was indeed the best grandfather ever.

  3. Beautiful! You brought tears to my eyes. You can tell how much you loved him! So glad you have this blog to record your thoughts & feelings.

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