07 January 2010

Grandad in Trappe

Today my family lost its patriarch.

Grandad in Trappe was my Grandma Gail's dad, my mom's grandfather, my great-grandfather. He was kind and loving, proud of his family, generous, and had been hard of hearing for as long as I can remember. He was a veteran of WWII, a father to six, grandfather to about 75, great grandfather to about 1000, and a great great grandfather to even more.

He liked to tell goofy jokes. He carved wooden ducks. He painted. He lived his entire life on his family's farm in Trappe, Maryland. He would complain about my great grandmother's cooking to make the kids think the food was gross, just so that he could have more.

[five generations picture from my wedding]

Grandad in Trappe (in our family we identify grandparents by where they live) married my great grandmother Jean when she was 14, because she had lied to him and told him she was 18. They were married for over fifty years. Almost everyone in my family was at her bedside when she died. She'd had lung cancer and had been suffering, and Grandad had left the house to go to the store. She started to breathe heavily and it seemed that she didn't have long, but Grandad still wasn't there. Grandmom held on until he returned home, and gave her a kiss. And then she let go, and was gone. Theirs was a powerful display of love.

Several years after Grandmom's death, after he'd learned to cook and clean and do laundry on his own, Grandad reunited with a friend from childhood, Doris. He and Doris had both married and raised large families, but then lost their spouses. They reconnected, fell in love, and got married. It was the cutest wedding, until my crazy Aunt Donna gave him Viagra samples as a gift. Grandad laughed and laughed, making us all believe the pills wouldn't go to waste.

Grandad was 87 years old. He lived a full life and made others happier when he was around. He made it a point to talk to or see every member of his family before he died, and it's comforting to know that he's no longer in pain.

Ours is a large, loud, obnoxious family of shit-talkers. We gripe about each other and fight and gossip and aren't afraid to say when we don't like someone or something. But I don't think I've ever heard anyone speak badly about Grandad. He was just that sweet a man.

We will miss him.

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