To My Grandfather, Thank You

To My Grandfather, Thank You

I am continuously grateful for your ongoing presence in my life.


Thanksgiving has come and passed, but the third Thursday of each November should not be the only day we show our appreciation and our gratitude to the ones we love the most. As the remainder of the holiday season continues to warm each of our hearts, it is important to look beyond the parties and the presents that come our way. In the midst of enjoying these special times, we must not place the material objects at the forefronts of our minds. Instead, we must share in these moments with the special people in our lives, and celebrate them in the process.

For me, this special person has always been my Papa Carl, and will continue to be for the rest of my life. Since I was a child, my friendship with my grandfather is one that has remained consistent in my greatest of moments and my toughest of times. In a similar sense, not only has it remained consistent, but it has grown into a beautiful lifetime of memories that I hold ever so close to my heart. From celebrating the holidays together, to planning family dinners or simply sitting down at his favorite restaurant for a strong cup of coffee and a great conversation, he and I have developed a lasting bond that I know can never be broken.

My Papa is one of the strongest, most hard-working people I have encountered in my life. He displays an attitude of integrity and independence that I admire endlessly. From his exemplary career as a carpenter to his loving role as a husband, father and grandfather, his strength continuously inspires me to be the best person that I can. As his only grandchild, I strive to make him proud in all that I do and all that I become.

Papa, I love you dearly, and I am so proud to call you my grandfather. I am grateful for your presence not only in this time of thanksgiving and celebration, but within every day of my life.

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A Letter To The Grandpas Who Left Far Too Soon

The thoughts of a girl who lost both of her grandpas too early.

Dear Grandpa,

As I get older, my memories are starting to fade. I try to cling to every last bit of memory that I have of you. There are certain memories that have stuck well in my brain, and I probably will never forget them, at least I hope I don't. I remember your smile and your laugh. I can still remember how your voice sounded. I never want to forget that. I catch myself closing my eyes to try to remember it, playing your voice over and over in my head so that I can ingrain it in my memory.

I always thought you were invincible, incapable of leaving me. You were so young, and it caught us all by surprise. You were supposed to grow old, die of old age. You were not supposed to be taken away so soon. You were supposed to see me graduate high school and college, get married to the love my life, be there when my kids are born, and never ever leave.

My heart was broken when I heard the news. I don't think I had experienced a pain to that level in my entire life. At first, I was in denial, numb to the thought that you were gone. It wasn't until Thanksgiving, then Christmas, that I realized you weren't coming back. Holidays are not the same anymore. In fact, I almost dread them. They don't have that happy cheer in the air like they did when you were alive. There is a sadness that hangs in the air because we are all thinking silently how we wished you were there. I hope when I am older and have kids that some of that holiday spirit comes back.

You know what broke my heart the most though? It was seeing your child, my parent, cry uncontrollably. I watched them lose their dad, and I saw the pain that it caused. It scared me, Grandpa, because I don't ever want to lose them like how they lost you. I can't imagine a day without my mom or dad. I still see the pain that it causes and how it doesn't go away. There are good days and there are bad days. I always get upset when I see how close people are to their grandparents and that they get to see them all the time. I hope they realize how lucky they are and that they never take it for granted. I wish I could have seen you more so that I could have more memories to remember you by.

I know though that you are watching over me. That is where I find comfort in the loss. I know that one day I will get to see you again, and I can't wait for it. I hope I have made you proud. I hope that all that I have accomplished and will accomplish makes you smile from ear to ear. I hope that the person I marry is someone you would approve of. And I hope that my kids get more time with their grandpa than I did because the amount I got wasn't fair.

I want to say thank you for raising your child to be the best parent ever because they will one day be the best grandparent ever. Just like you.

Cover Image Credit: Katelyn McKinney

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Hassana Kabbani: A Lebanese Woman In A Time Of Radio And Regime

An interview with my grandmother on her exposure to radio and television during the '60s.


Hassana Kabbani, a 71-year-old woman with a love for vintage radio and television. Hassana was a very bright student growing up, adventurous, courageous, filled with energy and insight. This woman is also my grandmother, as she spends her days rewatching classics like Casablanca and still manages to listen to the songs that shaped her music taste today, such as Elvis and Johnny Hallyday. I chose her specifically to interview as I was always intrigued by the way she reacted to radio and black and white television every time it was around her, even the sight of a record player and a distortion within modulating a radio frequency gave her nostalgia.

Hassana Kabbani was born on September 26 of 1946, a time where radio had just begun and a time where media was limited because of the excessive political conflicts happening within her hometown. My grandmother was born in Beirut, Lebanon and was a classic teenage girl following trends off magazines and listening to every source of media for her to find out the latest trends. The Lebanese civil war in 1975 and the critical reception of political figures collided with sources of media, making radio stations get cut and television being limited for only a specific amount of time. Propaganda surfaced on the radio and televisions, making my grandmother torn between her country's dilemmas and her own entertainment as everywhere she went to find a source of happiness in days of war she could not. At around the time of 1980 and onwards, my grandmother began to settle down, as she had three children and a loving husband. She would always enjoy the classic voices of Frank Sinatra, but she was haunted by the public service announcements involved with safety, war, and politics.

The main subject of where my curiosity shined the brightest was knowing my grandmother's favorite stations and her favorite influences from childhood radio and television. She replied "Radio in Lebanon in my early age was actually more of an educational tool. I was 12 and it was the 1950s. I used to listen to a specific local anchor named "Chafic Jadayel" who had many programs and would recite poems all the time. I loved his poetry it relaxed me so much." Hassana was very fond of poetry and opera at the time, as radio mostly broadcasted live performances of French singers and Arabic writers and poets. Furthermore, the use of French singers came across as a little strange, so I asked her why most of the programs happened to be in French on television and the radio. She replied saying "Lebanon was colonized by the French in 1941, and then gave Lebanon its independence in 1943, so we gained a lot of influence from the French. I'm French educated actually. I can speak French, Arabic, and English." Some sources even claim that the French allowed "the sectarian political divisions, and the class positions of dominant and subordinate social groups that they often expressed, continued to influence developments in Lebanon and Syria" (Encylopedia).

I asked my grandmother if the clash of Arabic, English, and French programs would be complex in learning three different languages. She replied "Yes, actually. Sometimes I would get mixed up with languages so easily. Each language made me view the entertainment in a specific way. The Arabic radio stations contained poetry and the television shows were comedy. The English songs that came on the radio were always upbeat and very fun to be around. It was the most popular music because we were fond of the joyful media in America, and the French radio stations contained opera and live performances and educational info such as poetry and stories." I was intrigued by the fact that Lebanon was so popular when it came to radio and television and she replied by saying "Well you do know Lebanon was one of the first countries to get television into the Arab world. Radio was also made pretty early here. I think it was called Radio Lebanon or something like that."

She was referencing Radio Lebanon which was "One of the oldest radio stations in the Arab world. The Lebanese Radio station was established in 1938 as Radio Levant by the French Mandate and was based in the Government Palace building (Grand Serail), the former Prime Minister's headquarters and the present Ministry of Interior. After the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1989, the radio station restored its broadcasting stations and worked to put a development plan for its broadcast stations and studios" (Halawi, Ayman). Furthermore, Lebanon also remained "unique among other Arab countries because of the variety of broadcasting systems that exist there and because of the changes that have taken place in participating broadcasters over short time periods" (Rugh, William A, Pg. 202).

Hassana talked about her love for slapstick television and her main obsession with American dancing. She stated " I loved to laugh and dance, those were my favorite moods. I used to dance to Elvis Presley and Johnny Hallyday all the time. Without television, I would have never been able to learn about the dance move the "twist" which came from Hallyday who we all knew as the French king of 'twist'." My grandma claimed that she learned about the twist dance in 1963, through a program on her television called "Talents." She states "We only had television for about four hours a day, so whenever we had the chance to watch "Talents" me and my friends all took that chance. Until many families started seeing it as frowned upon." My grandmother later carried on to explain that the dance was banned by the ministry of interior from all nightclubs and public places because of the aspect two bodies being close being a part of the dance. I asked her what happened when it was banned, was there a riot of some sort. She replied saying "Since the dance was banned, it became more popular and the popularity spread out to young adults all over Lebanon. Johnny Hallyday once came to Lebanon but the minister of interior did not allow that to happen. "I had a ticket to a concert the day Johnny Hallyday came to Lebanon where he was performing but the concert was canceled because of the banning of the "twist" dance. The prime minister interfered and allowed Johnny to come to Lebanon to have dinner with him, but was not allowed to perform anything for the time he was there. "As a progressive Minister of Interior in 1963, Kamal Jumblatt tried to ban the French king of Twist, Johnny Hallyday, from appearing in Lebanon and attempted clamp censorship on imported films" (Mackey, Sandra, Pg. 41).

Hassana elaborated on the uproar of the ban saying" People started watching the show on a weekly basis to see if they are going to bring back the twist dance or not. It was a conflict between traditional and modern, between the east and the west, the dabkeh (Lebanese dance) and the twist." People in Lebanon were threatened by the popularity of the twist and how its culture could take over the culture of Lebanon hence the "dabkeh" a traditional Lebanese dance that was performed throughout the entire country.

I later asked Hassana about her favorite TV shows, what brought the most entertainment to the public, and who was the most popular of the time. She replied "There was a very famous comedian in Lebanon called "Shoushou." He was the best at that time, and that time being the late 1950s to early 1960s. He was famous because he had the voice of a child and he had a popular big mustache and wore multicolored clothes. He had his own show on tv and people and kids used to imitate him. He was like our stooge of the time." Shoushou was considered an icon within his time, as he influenced many other Arab tv personalities because of his original wit and unique character.

"Hassan Alaa Eddeen better known as Shoushou took his fame and put it into establishing a national theatre entitled "Al-Masrah al-Watani" in 1965. He was the new company's leading actor as he assumed the role of a poor, naive, disheveled, air-headed young boy whose character shined all over Lebanon as a comedic icon" (Rubin, Don. Pg. 149). I later asked my grandmother about the downfall of television and when everything started to fall apart because of the Lebanese Civil War. She replied saying " It played a role during the war because any coup or speech that was broadcasted on TV such as in 1976 when general Ahdab, a Muslim, staged a coup demanding the resignation on the Lebanese president Sleiman Frangieh, a Christian.

"He announced his coup on a TV after his militant took over the tv building CLT and Franjiyeh in retaliation took over another TV station in Lebanon and propaganda continued from both sides until another president was elected." "General Ahdab allowed the split of radio and television systems in Lebanon into two competing sections, as Ahdab took over the medium wave and FM radio transmitters and also saw to it that the CLT television company, located in the center of Beirut which he controlled, broadcast pro-Ahdab Arabic newscasts each night.

While Franjieh controlled main medium and shortwave radio transmitters within Christian areas in Beirut" (Rugh, William A, Pg. 197). The context that's placed here is the Lebanese Civil War which was the war between Christians and Muslims. "The spark that ignited the civil war in Lebanon occurred in Beirut on April 13, 1975, when gunmen killed four Phalangists during an attempt on Pierre Jumayyil's life" (Lebanon). Furthermore, I asked my grandmother about the results of radio and television when this was occurring, she stated that at this time she was married and had kids so the next step was evacuation to another country.

I asked Hassana where she fled too and if the media coverage still spoke about the war in Lebanon. She replied saying "Me, your grandfather, your mother and your aunt all flew to different countries like Switzerland, and Syria. Mainly in Syria was where the radio and television would only cover the war in Lebanon. It was a sad time, there were no channels based in Lebanon the radio were strictly political. It was a dark place, I had no media to cope in at this traumatic time". The war ended around 1990 as "The Syrian air force attacks the Presidential Palace at Baabda (a location in Lebanon) and Aoun (Prime Minister at the time) flees. formally ending the civil war" (BBC). I later asked Hassana about the aftermath of the civil war and how radio and television evolved from then. She stated that "So much improved at that time, within the 90s TV was our internet, so many channels were being broadcasted such as LBC, MTV, Future TV, Al-Manar they all were news channels.

The television and radio acted as the internet for us. It was our source for every situation happening in Lebanon. Tele-Liban which was owned by the government was overruled by the success of LBC (Lebanese Broadcasting Company)". Hassana elaborated that at this time, radio and television may have gotten the popularity it needs, but it shied away from the entertainment prospect it used to have and mostly aimed at dealing with political coverage which creates a daily stress in the population of Lebanon. As our interview came to an end, I asked Hassana what her final thoughts were on the evolution of radio and television today. She replied saying "Everything is so unique now, it's like walking life through screens. I am in shock every day of how futuristic we are living in. It is almost a foreign feeling to me when I hear the modern music on the radio or I see all these colorful shows. Its almost like an experience, but today's technology allows me to look back on my past and to replay the songs I used to listen to as a little girl which warms my heart. I can relive my childhood with just the press of some buttons."

Hassana Kabbani was an uplifting spirit within her youth, as she partied to the "twist" and Elvis Presley at a young age but later had to face the fate of war upon early adulthood. Her nostalgia will always be based on vintage music, old Arabic poetry, and slapstick humor in black and white television. In conclusion, her experience with radio and television may have been one of the most impactful things in her life as she suffered through saving herself from the dilemmas of Lebanon through confidence in music, comedy, and other outlets to help shape her brain on pop culture, trends and what goes around in countries thousands of miles away (USA, Europe). Radio and television are two of the most revolutionary tools, as they could change the lives of many even with only a four-hour accessibility to television at a young age.

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