I got a phone call last night at about 11:15p from my mom. My granddad,
her father, passed away from lung cancer at 11:10p.
We had just visited him on
Sunday and he wasn’t
doing too well, having to be on medication for pain and anxiety. I
hugged him goodbye that day, and it didn’t really sink in at the time
that that’s the last time I’d ever see him alive. I mean, I guess maybe
I knew on an academic level, but just hadn’t really accepted it.
Granddad was a great guy and a hell of a lot of fun. Strong, confident,
and multi-talented - in recent (and not-so-recent) times, he’s been
known to play the guitar and the organ; mine gold (yes, by himself, for
days at a time); work with wood, metal, and glass in a variety of
fashions; ride his motorcycle all over the place; and travel from border
to border in his motorhome.
He was a crazy old guy and he had his own way of doing things. He’d
drive all the way to Mexico to get his dental work done “because it’s
cheaper” and come out with a mouth so full of gold teeth any rap artist
today would have been proud. He wasn’t remotely politically correct, and
you may have been offended, but, well, it was Granddad and you’re just
not going to change him. He’d only ever feed his dog Milk Bone treats
even though that’s really not good for the dog.
And he always had a dog, at least for as long as I can remember. All of
his dogs seemed to be wild around people, jumping on you, licking you,
wanting to be part of the action. When I was little, he had a dog,
Poncho, who wasn’t a big dog, but I was mildly scared of him because he
was a jumper. The dogs didn’t seem to do that as much to Granddad,
though, just the rest of us.
These photos are from a three-day fishing trip he took me on back in
June 1988. This was the first fish we caught on that trip. In the first
picture I dropped the fish and Granddad tried to catch it just as the
camera snapped the photo. The second photo we figured out how to hang
onto the fish.
We played Ray Stevens
whole way there and the whole way back, laughing and singing along with
the silly songs. Every time I hear a Ray Stevens song now I think of
We had some pretty good times together, whether just spending the day
at his place or driving out to eastern Oregon where he used to have a
cabin by Wallowa Lake (actually, Dad tells me it was Pine Hollow
but I somehow remember it as Wallowa Lake). Christmas was always a visit
to Granddad’s place to see my mom’s side of the family and eat until we
were stuffed. Hanging out with Granddad always meant there was some fun
that was going to happen.
He lived by Meinig Park in Sandy, OR and the whole family would get
together at his place every year to see the Sandy Mountain
Festival and visit. Some years
he let the Kiwanis Club (or, as he pronounced
it, the “Kiawannas”) plug their ice cream freezer into his power outlet
outside (yes, he was that close to the park) and we’d get free ice
cream. In the last couple of years I didn’t actually make it out for the
festival, having seen and done it so many times.
His latest craft passion was making things out of wood with his scroll
is a picture of the housewarming gift he gave Jenn and I when we moved
into our current place. It’s pretty cool, and I still haven’t decided if
it’d be better to paint it or stain it. Maybe I should have asked him
what he thought.
With some of the stuff he’d crank out, though, you’d wonder what he was
thinking. For example, one year I got a unicorn pencil holder with a
clock in it for my birthday. But that was just him, and it was always
the thought and the time he put into making it that counted.
He lived life to the fullest, and had an almost cavalier attitude
towards his own health. He was taking nitro glycerin tablets for heart
trouble he was having, and I remember him telling us about how he had
felt pain in his chest, so he reached down to the floor of the truck
where his pills were rolling around (you’re supposed to be careful with
the tablets - they’re fragile) and he took one… but he didn’t feel the
effects soon enough, so he just popped a couple more for good measure
(you’re only supposed to take one and then call the doctor). In the end,
it looks like it was his lifetime of smoking that took him from us, the
cancer spreading from his lungs through the rest of his body. I’m sad
that he’s left us, but I’m so glad he’s no longer in pain. Hopefully,
wherever he is, he is reunited my Grandma Lovey (that’s what we kids
called her), who passed away many years ago when I was young.
Rest in peace, Granddad. I love you, and you will be missed.