Top 10 Sandy Chevlin Life Lessons, Truisms and Words to Live By.
So today is officially ten years since my dad, the one and only Sandy Chevlin, was swiftly and unexpectedly taken from us. Don’t worry, this isn’t a sad post. I mean, maybe a little, but mostly not.
I was 27 and pregnant with my first child. My parents had just been in Chicago two days prior celebrating Passover and helping me buy maternity cloths and a crib. Two days prior, Sandy had been enjoying a vodka flight at Russian Tea Time while I ate my weight in fresh bread and butter, sipping my favorite black currant tea. I remember him talking to my belly and already giving life lessons to my little Mischa. (We didn’t know it was Mischa at the time as we were waiting to be surprised…) Sandy, however, knew it was going to be a girl. “Dad, why do you think it’s a girl?” “Because I want her to be.” So that was that. And I remember thinking to myself how lucky this little nugget was going to be. Because she was going to get Sandy as her grandpa.
There were few things my dad loved more than imparting his wisdom on others. Whether invited to or not. Between his profound thoughts on life, intricate world history lessons, or his favorite game of “Name that famous Jewish athlete,” Sandy was always up for a chat.
So today, on the 10th anniversary of the day I last heard his voice, I thought it best to share with you the Top 10 Sandy Chevlin Life Lessons, Truisms, and Words to Live By.
- In life, you always need cushion.
Most of the time, my sister and I knew he was talking about our grades. Extra credit assignments, bonus points and other “cushion” just in case we bombed a test. But looking back, I know he meant more than that.
2. A problem you can solve by writing a check isn’t a real problem.
I did not come from money. My parents worked hard every day of their lives. And when things would happen that we couldn’t afford, my dad never let that get us down. He would always figure out a way. And constantly reminded us of what was important.
3. Don’t start fights. But if someone starts one with you, you better damn well finish it.
I may or may not have taken this one to an extreme a time or two. Especially when someone was picking on my little sister. I distinctly remember one episode in 5th grade where I was called to the principal’s office after beating up a kid on the playground (after I watched him push my baby sis face first in the sand on the playground). Apparently, a set of saddle shoes can do real damage to a little boy’s shins. Anyway, when my father was confronted by the principal about my behavior, he refused to punish me. He took me out of school. And I’m pretty sure I got ice cream on the way home. Till this day, nobody messes with my baby sis.
4. Don’t take shit from anyone.
Yeah, see above. My dad didn’t suffer bullies and didn’t allow his daughters to either.
5. “Mayo on deli sandwiches is pure blasphemy. Feh.”
That is actually a direct quote. A born and raised New Yorker, my dad would never tarnish pastrami or corned beef with the stuff. Tuna or whitefish salad…totally different story.
6. “Rooting for the Mets is a miserable and thankless business. What time do they play today?”
A glutton for punishment, my dad was a lifelong Mets fan. He told me it was important to understand what loss and disappointment felt like, and there were no greater teachers than the New York Mets.
7. Abi Gezunt.
For the non-yiddish speakers here, it means, “As long as you’re healthy [you can be happy].”
8. “You got a 100% on your test….What, there were no bonus points?”
So, like…getting B’s weren’t really a thing in my house growing up. And even when my sister and I would get perfect scores on tests, he always wanted to know if there was an opportunity for us to do even better. Because, remember, you always need cushion. See no. 1.
9. The only proper way to break fast on Yom Kippur is with NY pizza.
Obviously. Because New York slices are delicious. And there is just nothing more to say than that.
10. All life lessons can be derived from one or more Mel Brooks films.
My dad believed that Mel Brooks was not only a great teller of stories but masterful at taking the world’s most horrible moments and belief systems and both simultaneously finding humor in them and forcing people to face the uncomfortable. Whether it’s Nazi culture (The Producers), racism (hello, Blazing Saddles), anti-Semitism (yea, too many movies to name…), when in doubt, Sandy Chevlin would bust out a classic Mel Brooks quote (or song).
Here’s you to, Daddy. We miss you every day. And will love you forever. Hope Mom isn’t driving you too crazy up there :)