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July 24, 2007

"Rest in Peace Granddaddy"

My grandmother called tonight. My last grandfather passed away this evening in the hospital. He had been fine the last few days and then, when she went home for dinner, his heart just gave out. She got back to him in time for a few words and then he died.

I've been to Kentucky twice in the last few months, bracing for this. When I was home the last time I thought things were headed into steep decline and was amazed when they discharged him. His return to the hospital was for bed sores and things had been looking up before this afternoon.

The last few months have really been hard for a lot of reasons. Louise, my dad's mom, has been having some problems with her memory and it's been rough. With my mom's dad it was his physical health, not his mental facilities. (Although anyone who ever had to sit through one of his conversations about why we should all avoid fluoride might argue differently.) Today wasn't really a surprise so much as an expected event that I just didn't expect today.

My grandfather was a father to me growing up. When my parents split when I was young it was my mom's parents raised me. (They were over a decade younger than my dad's parents at the time of the divorce.) There are a ton of memories that have come back to me over the last few hours and it's hard to not let my mind race through them.

I'll be driving tomorrow, a long trip that I'll try to knock out in a day. Ironically my one good suit is back from the cleaners and, for once, a supply of dry cleaning isn't a problem. No arrangments yet but that will sort itself out tomorrow.

After speaking to my grandmother I got a hold of my mother to let her know. The usual strain of our conversations was even worse with the news. I said I was sorry to be the bearer of the news and tried to keep the call short. This weekend is going to be filed with enough angst that, hopefully, the regular frictions will be kept to a minimum. Who knows. I might end up taking more of my flight medicine than if I tried to fly around the world a few times.

I've got a nice picture that I have been meaning to post for months of us. Here it is:


That's yours truly being instructed on how to use the new radio that Granddaddy got for Christmas in 1969. (I would have been about a year and a half old.) The glasses and tie are a great touch. If you look closely you can see he's moving my hand to try to prevent my breaking something before he's even had a chance to work with it. He used to record me with the cassette recorder that was in that radio. (Including my awful 1st night as a radio announcer.)

He was, it's safe to say, a nerd. (I now own his slide rule that I will give to Jack one day.) A chemical engineer by trade his passion really lay in trying to help people. (Even those who didn't want it.) For as weird as he could be, and he could be truly weird, his heart was always decent. My great aunt Shirley's oldest son was having a hard time making ends meet his last year in college and my grandfather never hesitated to give him the money he needed to finish his degree at a time when money wasn't plentiful in our house. He was as decent a person as you could ever hope to meet.

I just have to quit writing for a while tonight. Part of me is holding back tears and the other part of me wants to just keep pouring out stories about him. (He never swore in front of me until I was 12 and even then he had to force it.) Despite everything, knowing it had to happen eventually, I just miss him. I miss him because, while he isn't my father, he was my father for so long. He bought my tricycle, he let me stay up late to watch "Kelly's Heroes" the first time, he took me see some weird movie in 1977 because it had Alec Guiness and if he was in it then it probably wasn't half bad despite the weird name of "Star Wars" and hundreds of other things.

I miss him. I miss him and wish Jack had gotten a chance to know him better. The last time he saw Jack he said that Jack was afraid of him and seemed disappointed. That's all he said afterwards, "Jack's afraid of me" or similar. Everything I would say counter to that was in one ear and out the other. Now it's too late to argue with him anymore and there is nothing I can say.

Jack came up to me and asked me if I was sad tonight and I told him that I was. I explained that daddy's last grandpa had died and when I was finished I just sort of stopped. After a few seconds Jack said "It will be ok daddy."

I know it will but it just hurts like Hell right now.

Posted by Jim at July 24, 2007 09:04 PM


Sorry to hear about this, Jim. It sounds like your grandpa was a great man and clearly well loved. My condolences to you and your whole family.

Posted by: Matt Forbeck at July 25, 2007 12:04 AM

My heart goes out to you buddy, and I am really sorry for your loss. Take care, and don't forget to share these stories, and more with Jack, so he can know your Grandfather almost as well as you did.

Posted by: Aaron Z at July 25, 2007 11:45 PM


I’m so friggen sorry :(

Anything else I can say is meaningless.

Posted by: Steve at July 26, 2007 01:45 AM

I'm very sorry for your lost...

Posted by: Joell at July 26, 2007 10:48 AM

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