He lived a full life. One that I honestly don't know much about. He was a quiet man and a little rough around the edges, but a good man- a kind man. He never told me wild tales about his war days or about his courtship with my grandmother. I never heard about how he felt when he first became a father or about how difficult it was making ends meet with four children. I don't remember much at all about what he used to say. What I do remember, are the things that he did.
I remember his hugs and kisses that he would give us kids every time he greeted us or when we said goodbye. He made sure we all knew that he loved us. I remember his smiles. His eyes were loving and could pierce right through a person. Those eyes and the twinkle in them, my grandmother tells me with certainty that I inherited. My gramps always had that same grin on his face, as if he had a million things he wanted to say but didn't. When I would visit as a teenager, we would talk briefly about his golf game and the Atlanta Braves. I'm sure of it now, I always rooted for them because he did. The man taught me to play poker. I'll never understand where he found the patience to do such a thing. I still forget the rules, every time. He would often tease my grandma, "she how you are, Pat?" he would say as she bossed him around. The phrase always made us kids laugh. Then he would look to me with the loving eyes and the grin, as if to say it was a hopeless task to try and change her. It was, and he loved her anyway.
When I was very young, I spent many weekends at my grandparents' house on Choral drive in Southern California. So many in fact, that their home felt like my own. I have memories of wild gatherings where we would laugh and swim in the pool in the backyard. There was always root beer around the house and my grandma's sticky white rice. We had a lemon tree out back, two dogs, a million birds of paradise flowers, the hanging rattan swing on the patio and the green shag carpet my sister and I would twirl on while we danced to music. And in my grandfather's den where there were walls of old photographs in frames he made himself, he would sit in his oversized lazy boy chair and promise to give us quarters for rubbing his tired feet. I loved that house. I love those memories.
My grandfather JJ was a gifted carpenter. He spent many hours alone in his workshop crafting gorgeous keepsakes for his children and grandchildren. I have jewelry boxes that play music, piggy banks, toy chests and picture frames all handcrafted by him. My boys now ride the rocking horse he made for me when I was a baby, thirty years ago. The last time I visited grandpa, my boys were with me- and I told him how much they loved the rocking horse. I could tell his eyes understood how much it meant to me, especially now. And when I said goodbye that day, with a baby in one arm I hugged him. He gave me the same smile and the same kiss that he always did. And, I knew it would be the last time.
I love you, grandpa. Thank you for loving me.
a few shots I was able to get the day of his memorial service. I'm not sure how my kids always end up losing their clothes on every occasion, hippie babies. Also please note: Beckett's bawling in the family photo is due to Griffin stealing his new rocket. Auntie Kristin appears to be encouraging this, I don't know. We have since remedied the situation and Griff now has his own rocket.