I dreamt about my grampa last night. I guess it only fitting, being memorial day weekend and all.
My grandpa died in 1992; I still miss him.
He was the type of person who would go back and tell the chef he loved the meal–just to let him know.
He was big on family. More often than not you could find him behind a camera or camcorder, making memories; we were always in front, shooing him way.
He made his own wine; some of which was really, really bad. He’d just shrug and laugh and try again the next year.
He was a complete and total nut–much to the exasperation of my grandmother. We still relive some of his better schticks; they still make us laugh.
He was a gentleman. He did not believe in crossing lines, taking over, or pretending to know it all. I still remember him sitting me down–not long before he died–and telling me, for my sake, to forgive my father. He went on to say he believed I would, in my own time. He didn’t scold, or talk down.
He loved adventure. I love the black and white photo of a young man, in leather chaps, standing next to his prized Indian. Of course, he seemed just as happy driving a boat of a Buick cross country to visit family.
He was a hard worker. While many of us would rejoice in any reason to get out of work, he continued even when cancer had taken over. He worked until he simply could not work any longer.
When he died, his hospice nurse asked to sing at his funeral. She sang–a little shrill and a little off-key–“The Wind Beneath my Wings.” The funeral home was beyond capacity. Grown men, dressed in military finery, stood in back, wiping away tears. The man who usually played taps at the graveside had to bow out; he wouldn’t be able to get through it, he said. Not for Vern.
Anyone who knew my grandpa could understand. None of us quite wanted to admit lights out for a man such as he.
He touched lives wherever he went–with concern in those baby blues, with that ornery smile, with a quiet dignity.
Often times I think it highly unfair he was taken so soon. He never got to know the spouses of his grandkids; he never got to know his great-grands–including the one who is his splitting image or the one named in his honor. Nor will they get to know him.
I guess it’s up to those of us who did know him, to be a mirror.
Maybe that’s what memorial day is all about. Thinking of all those who have come into our lives and left a footprint that will never fade. We know the traits that have touched our own lives. What better memorial than turning around and passing them on …