We knew it was coming, he held on several days longer than we had thought he would, but it’s still a strange thought, that he is gone now. My grandma spent the night with him at the nursing home, holding his hand - they were married 70 years. He went early this morning, the last of his siblings to pass on.
My grandpa was always my hero. He is the man I learned to tell a story from. He told the best stories, about what life was like in his younger days, about the war and being in the Navy, about the mishaps that come with running a working farm. He’d start telling these stories and Grandma would say, “Those kids don’t want to hear that story, leave them alone,” but I did want to hear his stories. He had this way about speaking, this way of weaving these tales, that could captivate a room. He would have made a fantastic traveling bard. He wasn’t a writer, but he was a storyteller. I encouraged him at one point to write all his stories down, talked about loaning him my mini-recorder so he could just weave his magic and I would transcribe it for him. But there was never enough time. Too much to do around the farm, too many things to fix and build and plant. And now his stories are lost, except in the minds of those who got the pleasure of hearing him tell one. I know I learned my writing skills through various places, trial and error, but I learned how to tell a story - how to make my words dance and spin and pull you in, wrap you up in the tale - from my grandfather.
He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a brother, a WWII veteran, a Navy man, a farmer, a builder, a reader, a cook, a card player, a map enthusiast, a lover of tractors and dogs, a golfer, a storyteller and the head of a very large, very close-knit family that loves him dearly.
He was my hero and I will miss him more than my words can express.