I love this picture. I took this picture of my grandfather exactly 9 years ago on 28 December 2012. As what became a ritual, I would visit my grandfather on quiet mornings during the holidays. We would sit, watch game shows and drink coffee. For some reason that week home for the holidays, we kept missing each other. It was crazy. He never was one for sitting still until age and health issues finally caught up to him. My visits to home were filled with running to and fro trying to see this person and that. I was always overwhelmed and unsuccessful. However, since I drove I decided to stop by on my way out of town since I knew I could catch him before his day truly began. I thought it would be a quick visit. It was not. We talked about everything. He told me about his grandfathers – who he did not particularly like – and a bunch of other stuff. He teased me about my phone because it was never far from my side. He asked what the big deal was. I told him people really like the access to everything and the ability to take pictures. People take a lot of pictures. Then I told him I would take his picture. He asked why and I joked that when someone asked me about my amazing grandfather, I could show them what he looked like. Always loving attention, he obliged. So folks, here is my grandfather.
He got to live 91 years, which considering how many contemporaries I have watched pass away in the last few years is tremendous. When people write about the loss of a loved one it seems to be remembrances of their interactions with the person and not a true accounting of the person. I see how that happens now. Goodness, do I have such fun stories of being with my grandfather. We lived on the same street for most of my childhood, so I saw him everyday. And no lie: he was my biggest champion. This is not something I take lightly. I kind of sort of did not fit in many spaces. I had iffy parents. I watched PBS for fun. I looked nerdy with ugly cheap glasses and hair that never really permed well. But he thought I was wonderful. You don’t realize how much you need that in the world. Every conversation he dropped a little gem about how glad he was to have me. Me! Too smart, too weird me.
We could be so different. He was an extreme extrovert who never met a person he couldn’t regale with a story. I am an introvert who finds people scary. He was a hustling entrepreneur. There’s nothing I love more than doing my 40 hours and sitting my tail down somewhere (preferably a pretty bar or concert hall). I love me a shortcut or a scheme and he could be so by the book. He ratted me out to the airlines for sneaking on bags (pre-9/11)! He liked gambling a bit too much. Now I will keep every dime in my pocket and some of yours in there too.
However, I inherited his love of music. It plays all day around me just like it did for him. I love an activity. Hey…he is where I got the title streetrunner. And he was so consistent. I can be too. Yet, he always showed the hell up. Even when you thought you did not want him there. I was so frightened to admit how much I needed him at my wedding. But my husband had a man-to-man chat with him (he loved him some hubby) and convinced him to fly even though he hated it and hadn’t done it in decades. So he showed up. Walked me down the aisle. Hugged me on his way back home to tell how wonderful the entire weekend was. It was. I got to be with my guy.
Losing him is something I anticipated but could not imagine and I live in my imagination. Amazingly we got closer in the distance than we did down the street. Though he often teased that he saw homes perfect for me when I choose to move back to Michigan. I once spent the entire weekend just with him & my granny. Hilariously it was the weekend they captured bin Ladin. (This is a great story I need more space to tell.) I hated that his hearing started to fail and we could no longer successfully chat on the phone. I learned so much about him in the last ten years. Not just what he did for me, which was a lot, but how he thought, felt and what worried him. This man served as my chauffeur, receptionist (those terrible no phone days), my advocate, my cheerleader, my contract negotiator, my shady partner at gatherings, my rock. My consistent force who made me realize someone woke up every day caring about me. Yep. Somehow this remembrance turned into a discussion of who he was to me. I know that is not who he was fully but I fell into an easy trap. I don’t know how to describe how great he without first telling you how much he stood up for me. So when I tell you how amazing my grandfather was know I was smart enough to get this picture.