Let me tell you about my Granddad, because he was a very great man.
I remember when I was little and we'd go to visit my grandparents in the summer, Granddad always made sure to have his hammock tied up and ready for us before we got there, because he knew my sister and I would want to go out and swing in it. I remember him coming home from work--how dignified he always looked. He was a tall man and always wore such nice, expensive suits...I used to think he had to have one of the most important jobs and be one of the most important men in the whole world. I remember joking with him on Thanksgiving every year about how early he was going to get up to start working on the turkey (I always said I'd get up at 4:30 with him but lets be honest here--I never actually got my lazy self out of bed anywhere close to that early on a holiday). I remember how he'd go out in the back yard in the evenings after work to check on his rose garden, and how he not only taught me to grow and care for roses, but would come up to my house every spring to help me plant new ones.
My Granddad loved sports. He coached my mom's teams when she was growing up, then he coached in the church leagues after that. He and my Nanny came to so many of my basketball games and softball tournaments over the years that most of my teammates came to refer to them as "Nanny and Granddad" as well, and he's the reason I'm so much taller than everyone else in my immediate family.
At his funeral over the weekend, people told me over and over again how brilliant he was, but also how kind. They said he was truly a man of great intergrity, and the fact that there were over 400 people at his visitation says to me that he was as well loved and respected as anyone I know. People told me how proud he was of me, of all his grandkids, and how much he loved us. They talked about what a good man he was, all of the kind things he'd done for people over the years, and about how much they are going to miss him.
If you were to ask me what exactly my Granddad meant to me, I would tell you that I inherited his height, his weak stomach (we are/were both complete wimps when it comes to blood) and his absolute loathing of little green peas. I credit him with my time spent as an Upward basketball coach, my expensive taste in shoes, and my love of roses and cheesecake. But more than any of those things, my Granddad was a classy, classy guy and I am so proud to have known someone as good and as kind as him. I think I've learned a great deal about how to live life by watching my Granddad over the years...more than I probably even realize. Granddad loved my Nanny more than anything else in the whole world except for Jesus, and he made the best fried chicken I've ever eaten. He was a gentle giant who was worth paying close attention to when he had something to say. He was practical to a fault, always half an hour early for everything, and downright hilarious once you got to know him. He played golf, dabbled in the stock market, and would send me e-mail at 2:30 in the morning when he was undergoing chemo treatments, joking that the steriods they gave him ("Barry Bond shot" as he liked to call it) kept him from sleeping for two days.
I am going to miss my Granddad a lot. I can't even imagine what it will be like on Thanksgiving and Christmas when he's not there. I'm going to miss his late night e-mails, his dry sense of humor and his fried chicken. But I know that he is finally at peace; he will never be in pain or have to suffer again and for that I am very thankful. I like to think too that even as I type this, he is up in Heaven, tending to God's rose garden.