This was read at my grandpa's funeral ~
I am just one out of forty-seven kids, grandkids and great grandkids, and being one who lived away from Illinois (home base) most of my life, I always expected there to be a “getting reacquainted period” before my relationships with extended family could pick up again, but with Grandpa there never had to be. As soon as I walked in the door, EVERY SINGLE TIME, he waited with open arms and a greeting so full of love, I couldn’t help but know I was incredibly special to him. Long distance phone calls with Grandpa also gave me that special feeling.
He filled me with laughter. When I was a teenager on vacations from New Jersey, we would watch the news together on TV, snuggled on the couch, his arm around my shoulders. He would mute the sound, and together we would make up newsworthy items that the anchor woman must be talking about. We would keep it up as straight-faced as possible until one of us would dissolve into snorts of laughter. Grandpa usually snorted first, for the record.
After my family moved back to Illinois and I’d come home on summer breaks from college, Grandpa and I used to listen to his old records and waltz around the living room together to crazy songs like “ShotGun Boogy.” Sometimes at night, I would cuddle up with him and ask him questions, and he would tell me stories of how he and Grandma met – how she not-so-subtly chased him down and fed him until he just had to marry her.
He kept his house open for anyone and everyone. When my boyfriend, Jeremy, wanted to live closer to me for the summer, Grandpa offered his home. The two of them became best buddies, and my life is better because of the things Grandpa taught Jeremy those two summers (including, but not limited to, how to make the world’s best mashed potatoes).
Speaking of food, one of my favorite memories is when several of us young cousins spent a week playing practical jokes on Grandpa. Towards the end of the week, we decided to make a sandwich for him as a “truce.” We mixed every condiment and spice we could find in the kitchen and smeared it on the bread. Then we piled the sandwich high with ham and cheese and tomatoes, pickles, onions, etc. We cut the sandwich diagonally and added chips to the plate before we presented it to him. Then we all sat down to watch him eat. He relished every bite, much to our disappointment. Then he thanked us and said, “That was really good. What did you put on it? Grey POOP-on?” The crowd of cousins dissolved into giggles around him.
My grandpa always made me feel special, but he did much more than that. He made EVERYONE around him feel special because HE was special.
I love you, Grandpa. You lived what love is.