Today, I did something I would have never, ever done a couple years ago. This morning was my grandpa’s funeral service and although I was planning on doing a bible reading, I knew I could do something more. Unable to sleep last night, I woke up at 4 A.M. and wrote a dedication of memories to my grandpa on a note on my iPhone. Fancy, huh?
It was so hard to keep myself together! I really thought I was going to be okay right before I went up (I didn’t even practice!) but I was wrong. The combination of my speech topic and all the people listening to me brought me to tears. Thank goodness I brought my mini pack of tissues with me!
I thought I’d share my speech with you, I’m pretty proud of it and was extremely happy with the support I got from my family after reading it. I tried my best to read word-for-word, interrupted by sniffles.
For someone who usually has no problem given a pen and paper, I had a difficult time trying to pinpoint one major event, thing, or aspect of my grandpa’s life to share with you. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my troubles existed because there are so many things to say about my grandpa. So, although this seems elementary, I decided to use the alphabet to describe the things that have and always will remind me of my grandpa.
A: Albums. The stacks upon stacks of CDs, converted from their original formats that take up an entire hall closet.
B: Betty Boop. An icon of his past, and a reminder to us grandkids that grandpa was young once, too.
C: Chinese food. I have countless memories of going out for Chinese with grandpa. I remember not only his love for Chinese food, but the feeling I got eating at his favorite restaurant where all the workers know him, and my family.
D: Disney World. When my sister and I were younger, we took a trip to Disney World with grandma and grandpa. As I perused old photo albums the other day, I was reminded of that trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
E: Early. On my most recent visit to #505, I was reminded that grandpa’s sleeping habits resembled those of a teenager. A reminder to us that he was truly young at heart, perhaps?
F: Father. Of course, grandpa was a loving father to Wally, Diane, and my mom, Linda. Their close relationship with grandpa taught me and continues to teach me the importance of a close bond with my own father.
G: Guitar. To represent the numerous musical instruments grandpa picked up over the years. The piano, harmonica, and ukele grace this list.
H: Happy hour. I’m sure anyone here can attest to this: for grandpa, any time was a good time for aManhattan.
I: iPod. For the iPod filled with his favorite music, because sometimes a good song is all you need.
J: Jokes. Grandpa was definitely a trickster. My mom always told me how he answered the phone in various accents and voices when her friends from school called, and I believe it.
K: Kermit. Grandpa was a huge fan of The Muppets. I’m sure we’ve all been out with him wearing his signature Kermit the Frog hat on at least one occasion.
L: Lunch. Grandpa loved to go out to lunch every day. And I would too if I could walk into the Norridge Red Lobster and have the waiters, waitresses, hosts, and hostesses greet me by name.
M: Maurice Lennel. I have fond memories of visiting the old Maurice Lennel factory inNorridge. We could watch the pinwheels “march like soldiers” through the oven forever.
N: No. A word grandpa did not like to hear. Regardless of his limitations, he was going to find a way to do whatever he desired.
O: For the orange juice, shaken with pulp, that grandpa enjoyed each mornings. I can appreciate a good, working routine such as this.
P: Pinochle. Just yesterday, I learned grandpa was known as a “Pinochle Shark.” I believe it, as I remember the way he sped away in his scooter to the Norridge Park District center that Wednesday afternoon I dropped him off.
Q: Quirky. Q is a hard letter to find words for! If I could think of one of the many words to describe grandpa’s personality, it would be quirky, in the best way possible.
R: Rummy, as in Liverpool Rummy, the game you have no choice but to learn in this family. While grandma tends to bend the rules for her grandkids, grandpa was ruthless. I caught him looking at my hand once. His response? “Don’t hold it so I can see it!” Fair enough.
S: Stock Market. Every day, you could find him watching the stock market ticker, on mute. Had I understood economics in school, I would have loved to discuss the innerworkings of the market with him. Luckily, he had his son Wally for that.
T: Tea. Everyone knows how to make grandpa tea, right? Lipton lemon tea bag, 1 Sweet and Low, and a splash of milk until the water gets cloudy.
U: Unconditional: In any and all efforts to avoid the dreaded cliché, I couldn’t leave this one out. Grandpa’s love for his family and friends followed him wherever he went.
V: For the many ventures grandma and grandpa took. His curiosity and knowledge about different places reminds me of the important and to snatch up any opportunity I have to do so. Just a few weeks ago, I found him sitting at the computer, completely enthralled in the data and statistics of a small town inTexasI’d never heard of.
W: Watching. Grandpa reminded me to enjoy simplicity. He was perfectly content sitting outside, iPod in ears, for hours on end.
X: Forgive me for bringing a different language into this, but X represents the Greek letter, Chi. Interestingly enough, Chi translated to Chinese literally means the force of energy. I think we can all agree grandpa had boundless energy when it came to attacking life. And need I remind you of Grandpa’s love for all things Chinese?
Y: Yard. To represent the back and front yard of 4416 Redwood Drive, my mom’s childhood home, and the spot of so many childhood memories, Easter egg hunts, and playing in the cardboard boxes he built as play houses for my sister and I.
Z: Zero. The number of things I’ll forget about grandpa.
So, there you have it. 26 things doesn’t even begin to cover my grandpa, but I’d say it’s a pretty decent start. When you think about it, we all have core things that represent us. I know life shouldn’t be defined by such tangible objects and material things, but for me, it’s the tangible objects we use that enhance our personalities. I can only hope that one day, someone will be up at5 A.M.trying to think of my 26 things.
We just finished my favorite Giordano’s pizza, and are raring and ready to go for a game of cards!