Blog eats Blog by Rachel

grandpa richard

Wed Mar 22 2006 09:07 MST #

I went to Michigan last week to say goodbye to my grandpa. He passed away on March 18. I was glad that i could be there, and listen to great stories about Grandpa and Grandma. I also got to look through all of these wonderful photographs from the 30's and 40's of the family. My dad gave a really touching speech yesterday at the funeral and I'm proud of him. I'm also really glad that he decided to move to Michigan to spend more time with his parents. I think it is great he got to see his dad almost every day for the last four years, and spend time with him. Our family has lived out west for most of my life, so we never really got to see mom's, or dad's relatives very much.

Dad shared some stories about grandpa and played a great song he had written called Critical Mass. He really brought memories of grandpa to life - funny ones and noble ones. Grandpa as it turns out wasn't a staunch Republican like I always assumed. He wrote these amazing letters to Senator Romney in MI about civil rights in the 60's and was actually quite politically active in that way. But nobody knew it till dad found the letters. Grandpa was also passionate about trying to asve this great old tree, the Copper Beech, in downtown Plymouth. And Grandpa was stupid and silly sometimes too - like when he stuck this old-style bottle cap on his cheek and ended up with a perfectly formed bright red hickey. I like to imagine what he said the next day at work!

I don't have a whole lot of memories of grandpa. I always lived thousands of miles of away except for my first year of life, which of course I'm not going to be remembering.

I have a fond memory of visiting when I was a kid and helping Grandpa out with the yard, which was one of his pride and joys. He paid me one penny for each walnut thingy I picked up. Little capitalist Rachel was totally obsessed with gathering those things. The yard was beautiful - full of trees and with a beautiful stone wall running through it that Grandpa built to deal with the sloping yard. He was a meticulous craftsman.

Dad told this story of driving out to the house one day about a year or so ago. There was a walker in the bushes, and a ladder leaning up against the two-story house. He walked inside and found Grandpa taking a nap. When dad asked what grandpa had been up to, he said "Someone has to clean the gutterz!" Dad said Grandpa felt more comfortable on the ladder then the ground after he got Parkinson's disease. But everyone else worried!

I also am really proud of him for his accomplishments at Ford without ever getting a college degree. He was the resident engineer of multiple Ford plants simultaneously, and he was trained as an engineer at a Ford Trade school. I remember when I was still at the University of Washington I saw grandpa once. We talked about my math classes - the usual engineering mix of Diff Eq and the like. We got to bond over that - he had taken many of these courses himself while at Ford and had really liked taking them too.

I was also really glad for the chance to see many of my relatives, on both sides of my family - Grandma, Dad, Brooke (who flew out from WA), Aunt Nancy, Uncle Dave, Great-aunt Midge, my cousins Jeff & Eric & Danny & Betsy, my new second cousins (and the "old" ones, too :-), and Liz and Gary (first-cousin once removed i believe is the term).And everyone else. It was so nice to get to talk to everyone and try to help out a little. I'll miss you Grandpa.

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