Yesterday my grandfather passed away, just three months after my grandmother. He had suffered from Alzheimer's disease even longer than my grandmother had, so it had been a number of years since I'd seen him and been sure he knew who I was. Perhaps the only good thing to come from traveling to Florida for my grandmother's funeral is that I got to see and talk to my grandfather one last time.
In 2002, when I compiled a list of my favorite memories to send to my grandparents, I included these things I remembered about my grandfather as I was growing up:
- Trying to learn how to swing a golf club, courtesy of lessons by Golf Pro Grandpa in your front yard. Sadly, I'm no better at golfing now than I was then.
- Riding around in your 1932 Plymouth Roadster with you. Later, I remember learning to drive a stick shift in it. The gears were very forgiving, which was wonderful for a driver with my lack of skill at the time. I still prefer a manual transmission, and all my cars have been stick shift ever since.
- Marveling at the tricks you taught Poco. I especially liked the one where he flipped a dry-roasted peanut off his nose and caught it in his mouth. Poco didn't like children, but we still thought he was a Wonder Dog for his great tricks.
- Going to watch you perform with your barbershop quartet.
- The "happy dance" you did every Christmas, immortalized on each year's Super 8 film.
- Riding on your motorcycle. Even though we went really, really slowly and not particularly far, it was a huge thrill, mainly because my parents did not approve.
- One dinner we had together at Shoney's Restaurant. We spent almost the entire meal discussing correct grammar. I have no doubt that you're the progenitor of my "Mad Grammarian" impulses.
Thank you, Grandpa, for sharing your appreciation for old cars, language, singing, Tom Lehrer records, cranberry juice, Oreo cookies, driving and reading.