I was thinking today, on the way to church. Since I couldn't come to the funeral, my mom said we'd have our own little memorial service when we go home on Thanksgiving weekend for our eldest wedding.
I got to thinking, what could be said at this private service? What could I say?
There is much about my grandfather that I don't know, whole facets of his life that I had no part of. As it should be. When I was younger, I never felt it was appropriate to ask why grandpa walked with a limp, or what his experiences in the war were like. I know he and grandma lost a child, what was that like? These are things that I just never felt I should ask. The seemed too.... I don't know, just not part of things that I should impose upon as a grand child.
What I did know mostly consisted of what could be seen of his life. He liked having family around. He liked Notre Dame football. He seemed to like simple pleasures like playing cards with family and watching TV. He liked to lead a quiet life, at least after grandkids started coming around. I can't remember him raising his voice (though I'm sure he did and I just don't remember).
He served his fellow man. Not just in the war, but he worked for the post office for a while. He spoke rarely of politics, to me anyway.
Telling him that my wife and I were expecting was a hard thing to do. Especially since she wasn't legally my wife yet. All he said was "I see" and then, with a smile "So you're going to be a daddy. Are you happy?" when I said yes he said "That's all that matters." He loved my kids as much as he loved me and my cousins. I wish we hadn't moved so my kids could have known him as I did.
One of the biggest thrills when visiting grandma and grandpa's house was sitting in grandpas chair. Even when I got older, in my stupid teenage years when the only reason I wanted to visit was because he had Cable, it was still a treat to sit in that chair.
Most times when we went to visit, it turned into a card game. I don't know what game they played, I tried to learn once so I could be a part of it, but I just couldn't get the hang of it. So I was always in the other room watching TV while most others were playing cards. I regret that I could never get "in" with that group, but that's just the way it was.
He always gave me money. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandfather handing me a nickel or a quarter. When I got older it was 5's, then 10's, then 20's. Even when I was older and married and working, he still forced it into my hand. I know he knew the value of it, since he had grown up in the depression (though I never remember him talking about it.)
I don't know what he believed religion-wise. I don't think I'd ever seen him in a church except for a wedding or a funeral. It was another topic of conversation that just seemed taboo. I wish I knew what he did believe, if anything. There's a part of me that is just all tangled up about it.
Now I'm just off on a rant. There's a good part of me that's still in denial. It's still not real. It just hasn't sunk in. I just saw him. And yes, he was getting older and had issues, but I never thought it would be the last time I would talk to him.