Friday, August 24, 2012

Remembering My Grandfather on the Anniversary of His Death Forty Years (and Two Days) Ago

This past Wednesday marked the forty year anniversary of my beloved grandfather's death. There will never be an August 22nd that goes by without my remembering the night that Gramp passed away, not as long as there are katydids and crickets singing their August songs in the dark or while my own heart continues to beat. There are some things in life that you simply never forget and for me, my grandfather's death will always be one of them.

As I was trying to think of what to write to mark the occasion, I looked through some old blog posts and came across one from when I was just a baby blogger and barely three months old with probably only a small handful of readers - if that. With that small of a readership, it seems like I should be able to get away with re-posting it as it does a pretty good job of summing up what grandparents mean to me and that seems like a pretty good way to mark the occasion of my grandfather's death all those long forty years ago when I was a mere kid of 13. Funny, I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday but I can still recall exactly how I felt on that late summer night and I can still remember what a fantastic grandfather I was blessed with and the terrific memories that I will always have of him even if August 22nd always makes me a little sad.

Charles E. Hart, July 25th, 1904 to August 22, 1972
"Grandchildren don’t make a man feel old; it’s the knowledge that he’s married to a grandmother." ~ Dame Agatha Christie ... Originally posted October 11, 2006

Last week was pretty rough at work. We were still down two dispatchers due to people having left the company awhile ago, Jen is still out on maternity leave, Erik went on vacation, Matt & Brad went down to North Carolina to pick up a few new ambulances, and several other people were out sick. I put in way too many hours and am going to end up with a ridiculous amount of overtime in my check that will definitely make Uncle Sam very happy. Suffice it to say, the week wore me out and I think I've been carrying over some of that residual tiredness to this week. After all, I'm not as young as I used to be - a fact that people just love to remind me of on a regular basis!

I was still feeling pretty worn out the other morning when one of the paramedics that I work with referred to me as "grandma". Initially I took offense to the comment and then the light bulb went on ... "DUH! I am a grandma!" Because my son and his wife live in Rhode Island, I don't see my grandson very often so it's a little too easy to forget that not only am I old enough to be a grandmother, I am a grandmother.

I think part of the problem is that I don't really consider myself to be old (even though there are days when I feel like I was around before Rome was in ruins) and for some reason I have the mindset that grandparents are, well, old! What I keep forgetting is that I am at the age where a lot of people become grandparents for the first time. My own parents were only 46 when my son Michael was born and my friends Cyndi and Rhonda have both held the title of grandmother for several years. Ealier today I came across an old newspaper announcement for the birth of a granddaughter to one of the guys I used to work with at Norwich PD and I initially thought, "wow, he can't be old enough to be a grandfather" but then I thought, well, why not, his son is older than mine. I have to wonder though if, having kids at home younger than mine, he feels like a grandfather? Which brings me to the question of "what exactly is a grandparent supposed to feel like?"

I was very lucky when it came to my own grandparents though I didn't have the requisite two on each side. My mother's mother died when I was only three months old but my grandmother on my father's side was your typical "granny" and that's exactly what she was called - though in later years she always referred to herself as "Old Gram B". If I've inherited nothing else from her, I have acquired some very unique phrases that I hope to write about in a future entry! My grandmother was your typical old Swamp Yankee who used to knit clothes for my dolls, made a mean raisin-filled cookie, and treated me like gold. I can still remember trips to the big "city" of Willimantic sitting between her and Maurice, my step-grandfather who always smelled (not unpleasantly) like the barns he worked in.

On my mother's side, my grandfather was my idol (and still is). If ever there was a storybook grandfather, my Gramp was one and then some. He had the patience of a saint, a fantastic sense of humor, and brewed a homemade root beer with a kick like a mule! Some of my fondest memories are of times spent with my grandfather - Sunday dinners at his house, car trips to apple orchards or to get ice cream with six of us cousins stuffed in his old bought-at-auction State police cruiser, trips to Mystic Seaport and Sturbridge Village, or just sitting on his lap while he read the Sunday comics to us. I swear there are times when I can still smell his Old Spice aftershave and feel his whiskers on my cheek.

Maybe that's why I have so much trouble picturing myself as a grandparent - I'm still looking at grandparents the way that I looked at mine and my best memories of them were when they were older. Technically, though, they weren't exactly old when they became grandparents - only a few years older than I am now - which is a sobering thought! I think they grew into being fantastic grandparents over time and someday I think - I hope! - I will, too. Right now I'm not very good in the grandparenting department but I hope that when Mathew is older, he'll have good memories of me, too. Memories that perhaps 30+ years later he'll be sitting down to write about if he inherits my enjoyment of writing about everything and nothing!

Maybe that's the greatest thing we can leave our children and grandchildren - memories that they will treasure for a lifetime. I know I treasure the memories my grandparents and parents have given me and, no matter what else I might forget in this life, I hope I never lose those memories for they're truly my inheritance in this life.


  1. I was too little to remember my grandparents. They died within 6 months of each other when I was about 3 years old. I have only one memory of my granpa and I think I really liked him :)
    Hugs from Ohio,

  2. Being an isolated family family, we never really had a chance to truly get to know relatives outside our immediate family. I can tell you that my oldest brother has change this as did I.

    Sending you a hug. It's tough to when you miss someone who was a special part of one's life.

  3. I never knew my grandfathers, they passed away before I was born. I first became a grandmother at the age of 40 and didn't consider myself old, even now at 62 I don't feel old, well apart from all the aches and pains. ;)

  4. Ah -another of your posts that hits my sentimental spot head-on! I never knew my Paternal grandfather as he died 22 years prior to my arrival and my paternal grandmother passed when I was but 2 1/2 years old, so no memories of her either. But my Mom's parents -now them I knew quite well since my Mom and I lived with them. Like you, my Grandpa was my hero too, then and to this day. He instilled in me the love I have for books and reading along with history -American as well as European (particularly of Sweden.) My kids -especially the two younger ones -never got to know their grandparents very well -my Dad died when I was an infant, my Mom passed when the oldest was 12 and on their Dad's side,the grandparents lived about 700 miles away from us so they rarely saw them. And now, my grandkids are growing up really only knowing ME since their Dad's parents are both deceased and my ex lives way out in Nevada -well over 2,000 miles away so they only see him maybe every 3-5 years or so and since the two younger kids don't particularly like to talk on the phone, they don't even have that means to utilize to get a little familiar with "Poppy"! And that makes me feel sad for them because having been able to know and to love my Grandpa the way I did, I feel they are being very deprived of an important entity in their lives. (Makes it all that much more important to me then to try to be as unforgettable a figure as possible then in their lives and that maybe someday they will tell their children or grandchildren -who knows -what an awesome, incredible, weird kook their Grammy was!)

  5. Lucky girl! And he looks rather dapper in his overalls!

    I was very close to both of my grandmothers but alas, neither one of my grandfathers. Their loss, I say!

    Happy Friday. Rest, you silly overworked woman you!

  6. One of my grandfathers passed away before I was born and the other lived too far away. I had a mean grandmother and my mothers mother was awesome. I sure loved her a lot.

    I'm a great grandmother and I'm good with that. It's way more fun than having kids. You have far more patients.

    Have a terrific day and weekend and I hope you can get some rest. :)

  7. I love the memories I have of my grandparents. With the genealogy research I've been doing, there have been more memories coming back to me. That's always a good thing.


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