December 23, 1916 – December 2, 2010
So long has passed since my last post on Grin & Grumble. I have returned to the blog, albeit with a heavy heart and unsure of exactly what to write.
Regretfully, a sad event has brought me back. My grandfather passed away on Thursday evening.
Grampie, as most of his grandchildren called him, was a gentle soul who put his love for family above all else. He worked seven days a week during World War II, welding together the great ships of the era. He built his own house and there, with his beloved wife, raised four healthy and happy children. A talented welder, he worked at a local company in his hometown for the majority of his career.
Those are the facts, the things about Grampie that are easy to describe. Harder still to articulate are the personality characteristics that made my grandfather a great man. Perhaps I struggle because the words are unfamiliar–I’ve never known anyone like Grampie.
Quick to smile, his grin could make even the most ornery person shed a frown. Grampie loved to laugh and I remember many times at the dinner table when he’d be tickled by a comment, bellow a “hah!”, and slap his knee as he chuckled. He enjoyed his family and loved to talk for hours around that table.
Grampie was vibrant with his mirth and so too with his language. He’d sling PG-rated curses every few sentences not to be profane, but to emphatically make his point. As a child–and frankly as an adult–I always thought this habit was incredibly amusing. I’ve never known anyone to swear so much and simultaneously be so likable.
Good memories abound. Eating big breakfasts that he had prepared. His habit, when discussing something serious, of looking you in the eye, asking “Do you know what I’m saying?”, and sometimes even reaching out and touching your arm to connect physically as well as intellectually. Him teaching me how to carve a turkey. Trips with him and Nana to the beach. The profound look of happiness on his face when surrounded by his wife and family. His one beer a day. His utter devotion to my Nana. The earnestness with which he spoke. His hesitation to judge and his eagerness to accept.
My grandfather gave great love to his family and we returned it in kind. Grampie gave so much to my Nana throughout her life. His three daughters clearly observed his selfless acts. Over the last years, they were a generous team and helped Grampie age in the manner he wanted. He had handed down his gift of generosity and his daughters accepted it graciously.
Last night I was listening to music as I tried to fall asleep. A song came on by Guy Clark called “Stuff That Works.” I had never heard it before, but I listened carefully to the lyrics. They told of appreciating the quality things in life.
Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall
Stuff that’s real, stuff you feel
My grandfather was made of that stuff. The stuff that holds up. The stuff that’s real. The stuff you feel. He was genuine. He will be missed but his presence will always be felt by those who loved him.
Rest easy, Grampie. You have earned it.