Ode to Pumpa

When I first told Pumpa, my 88 year old grandfather, about my yoga plans for the summer, his old hazel eyes widened in surprise. “Yoga?” he asked, thick Russian accent adding several additional layers of incredulity, “I can tell you all you need to know about yoga. Just lift a leg and fart.”

Pumpa has never done yoga, he never plans on doing yoga, and he sure as hell doesn’t like the idea of yoga. But as his only granddaughter with a yoga blog, I think it is my duty to share with you all the colorful opinions he has on the topic.

Now before I continue, let me supply a little bit of background on the man himself. Pumpa is an avid tennis player, a seasoned skier, and a proud mediocre singer of dirty Russian songs. (What he lacks in musical talent he makes up for in enthusiasm.) A few weeks ago, he bought a bike because he hasn’t ridden one in a few decades and was really starting to miss the feeling.

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Did I mention he’s 88?

When he was just fourteen, Pumpa began fighting Nazis with a guerilla Russian army in the forests of Eastern Europe. He slept in snow banks. He beheaded unlucky German officers on motorcycles with piano strings. He built bombs to blow up trains carrying precious cargo to Nazi soldiers. To say the least, Pumpa is a certified badass.

He and my Nana live only five minutes away from our house, so my sister and I go over to their condo for dinner at least once a week. Over the course of the summer, these dinner dates have sparked some rather unorthodox yoga-related conversation.

At the very beginning of this project, I found myself trying to explain the concept of my blog to a very skeptical Pumpa. (Being a retired mechanical engineer, he has difficulty accepting terms like creative research or English major.) “I’ll write something new every week, about how the yoga’s going or how I’m feeling and stuff like that. I even thought of a title today!”

“What’s the title?” Nana asked politely. (She’s one of the most patient, honest, and admirable people I know. She’ll get her own ode soon enough.)

“Your Forehead Should Touch Your Toes, and other yoga adventures,” I announced.

Pumpa chuckled and took a large swig of his drink. “You know, I think my forehead will touch my toes just before I’m cremated.” He then proceeded to ask if I had found myself a boyfriend yet, and that was the end of that.

Most days, our conversation would follow a pattern that looked something like this.
Pumpa: How’s all the yoga going, sweetheart?
Me: Pretty well! Really sweaty, but really fun.
Pumpa: Good. Glad to see you haven’t gained any weight, honey.

But then last week, Pumpa had an especially interesting story for us. A woman had approached him at the health club that he and Nana exercise at every morning, with the intention of recruiting him for a senior health class. Pumpa was furious. “That really turns me off, you know, I don’t like to be called a senior. Old fart I don’t mind, but senior just pisses me off. Elderly too.” As he spoke, I noticed the large sign that hung behind him on their dining room wall, proudly baring three letters: EEB. I’d been his granddaughter long enough to know that this stood for Eastern European Bastard, a nickname he would gladly tell you about if you asked. But remember, those E’s do not stand for Elderly.

And as if to add insult to injury, he went on to explain that the class the woman was trying to recruit him for was actually a yoga practice. A yoga class for the elderly. As you may have guessed, Pumpa declined the offer.

After Nana and I cleared the dishes, Pumpa clasped his hands atop the wooden dining table and looked at me. “You know, Hannah,” he began, “I saw your… blog.” (He said the word blog the way some people might say income tax or irritable bowel syndrome.) “I think your English is good, but the rest I don’t really give a shit about.”

“Oh, why thank you!” I laughed, but the gratitude was genuine. It’s not often that Pumpa will tell you your English is good.

As I slipped on my shoes to leave their condo a little while later, Pumpa patted my shoulder. “You look good, honey.” I kissed him on the cheek.

“Thanks, Pumpa.”

He may not always agree with what I do, but he always finds a way to support me; for that, I am grateful. Maybe someday I’ll be able to drag him to a yoga class. I have to imagine lifting a leg and farting could become his new specialty.

Namaste,
Hannah

(Love you, Pumps.)

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. teenieyogini
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 18:55:56

    Why else would it be called “wind removing”? He needs to get in there and show ’em how it’s done!

    Reply

  2. Marcia Imbrescia
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 19:35:40

    Pumpa is the coolest! XOXO

    Reply

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