Saturday, February 6, 2010

What a guy

My granddad passed away on Monday.

People have said all the usual thoughtful things you say when someone dies. They always start with "sorry" but somehow it doesn't apply. Granddad was 102. If life is a giant towel soaked with water, the man wrung out every last drop.

He was born in 1907. He was alive when the Titanic sank, my age in the middle of WWII. Heck, he was retired before I was born. Granddad struck a very good deal with the Fates, I think.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to John Jennings McKnight. In the genetic lottery that is a family tree, seeds are gathered from every branch but they aren't scattered evenly. I got more than my fair share of the super-charged positivity serum that flowed through my granddad's veins. While the details of his life weren't inherently extraordinary, his perspective on life most definitely was. He had a natural optimism and a glass that was perpetually half full, if not overflowing. He had the recipe for happiness and he shared it with me.

I have so many snippets of moments with granddad stored up in my brain. The way his workshop smelled. The way he let me jump in bed in the morning, while I am sure that he and Nana wanted to sleep. The Lego surprises he'd build for me after I'd gone to bed. The stretchy skin on his elbow and the crazy one-handed clap that I can do too. The wooden dollhouse he made me from scratch. Springtimes in Florida where I'd follow him around the golf course. He'd always say yes to a game of cards. A hug at night, when he'd tell me he'd see me "in the morning's milk". I don't even know what it means, but I loved it.

Grandfathers are funny creatures. We see them with the eyes of the child, even once we're grown. In this child's eyes, he was a most wondrous man. I can't tell you what kind of friend he was (though I suspect he was fantastic). I don't know if he was good at business or if he filed his income tax returns in a timely fashion. Was he punctual? A great dresser? A safe driver? I don't remember.

Here's what I DO know. In the grandfather department, he was the best you could ask for. All the things a kid could want, he was.

One hundred and two years he was here and I got to share the last thirty five. Thank goodness.


Hero said...

Les, you just made me think about my grandfather, who passed away about fifteen years ago. Thanks for that.

I'm sorry for your loss and happy for your blessings. xo

mjk said...


What a great tribute to a wonderful man. I can't think about your grandfather without remembering what a gracious, gentle soul he was. He will be missed for sure but in all the very best ways, with thoughts of love. We are thinking about your family at this time and send you our love.