Yesterday would have been my paternal grandfather's 97th birthday. I wanted to do this post yesterday, of course, but I didn't have the time to give it the thought and attention it deserves. I have actually been thinking about what to write for several days, and I realize that I could probably write a book about him easier than I can condense all my memories and feelings in to one little post. All of my grandparents were very special to me, and I miss them everyday. My grandfather passed away on May 16, 2003 at the age of 92. I am so lucky to have had him in my life for so long.
One of the funniest memories I have with him occurred when I was about 7. My grandfather took me and one of my best friends ice fishing. As we started on our adventure my friend and I were excited, but as you can imagine, after sitting in a little tin shanty, staring into a Small hole in the ice, freezing our rears off, and seeing absolutely NO fish our enthusiasm started to wane. We decided to explore outside the shanty, and lo and behold we had a great idea for a new game. We decided it would be lots of fun to throw snow balls at the side of the shanty. Now would probably be a good time to mention that my grandfather really hated sudden, loud noises. After a few tosses of snow balls hitting the TIN shanty, making a great clanging, booming noise, we realized the error of our ways. We realized our error because my grandfather came bursting out the door of the shanty looking very unhappy to say the least. My friend and I took off running in the opposite direction as fast as our legs could carry us over the ice. I know my grandpa wasn't happy, but I really don't remember getting in trouble. I do remember laughing about it many times over the years, and I remember that my ice fishing career came to a screeching halt after that.
He loved to be with family, traditions, had great stories, and was quite an outdoors-man. He loved to hunt and fish, and grew amazing roses. He made the best pancakes in the world. He had a cottage on Lake Huron in Michigan and I spent a lot of time there in the summers as I was growing up. I ate lots of his pancakes at the cottage and the sound of a baseball game on the radio on a summer evening takes me back to that cottage immediately. He had a boat and he used to take me and my friends for great rides bouncing over the waves. The name of his boat was the "Faster Grandpa", because that is what I would scream from my perch in the bow.
When my husband and I were engaged and newly married, we used to have dinner with him quite often. He would broil Salmon and we would listen to Big Band music and talk. They are some of my fondest memories of all. We still listen to Big Band almost every night with dinner.
I am grateful that my son got to meet him and know him a little bit before he died. The last time I saw him before he passed, he was living in an assisted living facility and my son and I went to visit him with my dad. He had developed a tradition of having a grilled cheese sandwich and applesauce everyday for lunch. On that day he and my son shared his grilled cheese sandwich. It was really sweet. I am sad that my daughter did not have a chance to know him.
There are things in my daily life that remind me of him all the time; pictures, the way Brit Hume on Fox News speaks sometimes, an older gentleman wearing a hat that looks like something he would have worn. It always makes me smile, but sometimes it comes with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye too.
Happy Birthday Grandpa, you were a lovely man. I love you.