a eulogy for my grandfather

My grandfather, Glen Edwin S., passed away on Thursday, January 9th, 2014. He hadn’t been well for some time, and Grandma said that the day before he really hadn’t been doing well at all.

I remember going home for my brother, Tim’s birthday almost two years ago. It was March, and I was told Grandpa wasn’t doing well and might not make it to Easter. I wanted one last good memory with him. However, Easter came and went and Grandpa was still with us. And other than his usual grumpiness, he seemed to be doing fine.

Grandpa was always sweet with me, though. For 11 years, I was the only granddaughter — and that held some sway with the old man. That’s not to say he loved my brother or my cousin any less, nor my half sisters when they came along. But there was something special that Grandpa and I shared. Grandpa and I were almost always partners in Skip-Bo, and we almost always won.

Tim, Matt, and I spent a lot of time together at our grandparents while growing up. We spent a lot of time at the house, but Grandpa would also take us on adventures to various cemeteries looking for various relatives. Or sometimes we’d trek down to the family farm together, generally also to look at the cemetery. But Grandpa also taught us how to use and respect tools during afternoons at the workbench in the garage. I can’t remember what the boys made, but Grandpa helped me build a small corral for the wooden horses I painted. He also taught each of us how to use the lathe — but I was too young to really use it without supervision, and plus, there were far more interesting things inside the house.

No matter how many times I had been there and seen everything, there was always something to discover at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Grandpa would always tell me about every object whenever I asked, where it came from and when, and there would always be a story or two to accompany it. My grandfather was full of stories. I could sit there all day and listen to him tell of his own adventures, or share stories about our family. And though genealogy was a passion of his, Grandpa’s true nature was that of a storyteller. It’s one thing I think I’ll miss most.

There were a lot from the war, where Grandpa was a Navy SeaBee. I remember him telling us about a pig that followed them from camp to camp — or maybe that was the one about the monkey. I remember him telling about his time on Okinawa, arriving first so they could build the runways for the rest of the troops. Grandpa loved telling us about his days as a pilot — though, as he was quick to remind us, even at the end, he was always still a pilot, he just couldn’t pass his physical any more. There was the time he flew his friend’s modified pup plane, where he did a barrel roll and the top came off. Or the time he and Grandma went up and he had to have her keep an eye on the ground so they could land.

Grandpa was a gruff and sometimes stubborn man. He was a Quaker, who though he had an extraordinary life, lived simply. You didn’t buy anything if you couldn’t pay for it in cash, and you didn’t fuss over things that didn’t need to be fussed about. He might have been stern with us, but Grandpa loved us kids, even if he never said so directly. Family brought joy to his life — and he brought joy to us, in his own, sometimes grumpy, way.

We say that he has gone to a better place — but Grandpa will never truly be gone. He is always with each of us who loved him. It is not for us to think of him as if he was lost from our lives, but rather that we continue forth with him as our companion, celebrating and honoring his life. So I’ll think of him with every crossword puzzle. Remember how he taught me to savor my cookies. Be comforted in the memory of his smile… He’ll be in the small things and the quiet moments, forever by my side. I will miss my Grandpa, and will always be grateful for the time and warm memories I have of him.

Today is the memorial service for my grandfather, where this eulogy was read.