Sunday, March 29, 2009

The greatest man I ever knew...

This is my grandfather on my mother's side. My "Papa". He was my hero. Still is really. Almost every day I think of him at least once. I miss him, I hope he's watching over me, I hope he's proud of me.
He was one of those people in life that others aspire to be like. A man of the highest moral conviction. He and my grandma (Grammy) adopted my mom later in life and so they were retired by the time we came along. Papa was always the first to volunteer when I had a school field trip and every kid in my class would want to be in his group. I stayed the night with him almost every Saturday night. We'd watch HeeHaw and play Dominoes and eat Arby's because there was usually a coupon in the paper. On Sunday mornings he'd make me oatmeal and cinnamon toast cut into strips for dipping. We'd go to church and meet up with the rest of the family and then have lunch at the counter at the original NuWay on Douglas.
He was a Quaker but served in WWII as a medic. He collected flags and had one from Nazi Germany that he climbed a flag pole and "liberated" as he told the story about 20 minutes after Hitler had spoken nearby. He donated blood regularly and had pins he had earned from hitting certain milestones. He was a ping pong GENIUS. One family legend is that he once beat my mom blindfolded. He was ornery as sin and loved being one of the kids. He would skip through the store with us or plop right down on the floor next to my sister and join her in a full-on temper tantrum until they would both be in fits of giggles. He would read to us for hours and hours on end. And his homemade icecream was to die for.
So many of these things seem trivial but those are the things that make up a person. All the little details. All the little pieces of himself that he gave to his family and his grandkids. Those are the kinds of things I want to give to my family, memories. Memories of things that may have no meaning to the outside world but mean the world to them. I want to be the kind of person he was. Heck, I want to be half the person he was.

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