On july 5, 2010 my Grandpa, Harold, died; he was 94. His father worked on the railroad so unfortunately the family moved quite a bit when he was young. One of those moves put him in west central illinois where he made many good life-long friends. One of these friends introduced him to my grandmother; they dated for about 5 months when Grandpa asked Grandma to marry him while they were ice skating. They eloped in the spring in Iowa because it was less expensive to get married there than in Illinois. After WWII, my grandparents both worked-Grandpa at a factory & Grandma at a local furniture store. I can still remember them coming over to our house the day they both retired.
Grandpa used to take all of us grandkids fishing in the summer (1 or 2 at a time of course) and even though I didn’t like to eat the fish, I still enjoyed spending time with him, driving the boat and learning about his hobby. He also did woodworking and made all of his grandkids something (usually with our names on them).
Grandpa was always a quiet man, but every once in awhile he & I would talk about things. He liked my combat boots that I wore in college (he said they were paratrooper boots); he told me about his experience in animal preparation when I worked at a meat packing plant; and he asked what kind of pitchfork I used cleaning the horse stalls (4 pronged). At Christmas this last year he told me about his experience in the CCC where he went to Idaho right after graduating high school. He said on the weekends his buddies would pan for gold, they didn’t get much, but it gave them something to do. He told me he thought eastern Washington & Idaho were a scenic part of the country.
I’m disappointed that now I won’t get to hear anymore of those stories.
The past several years my Grandpa’s health has been declining and it started getting worse when my uncle (his son) died in 2006. We’ve known for a couple months now that the end was coming, but I was still hurt a great deal when my Mom called me on monday to say he had passed. I flew home on friday so that I could be with my Mother, Grandma & aunt for the funeral on saturday. All 10 grandchildren came back for the funeral as well as 6 of his 12 great-grandchildren & 3 of his great-great-grandchildren. But that’s nothing compared to people who weren’t even related to Grandpa who came to the funeral and offered support & stories about Grandpa to my family. My Grandma has been very strong through this time and even told my Mom to "cheer up." Maybe she knows that my Grandpa’s no longer in pain and that he can see & hear with perfect clarity. Even though I know that he’s in a better place I still am going to miss him.