My grandfather passed away this morning. He had lived a good life. Due to his falling deaf a few years ago and the fact we live 3,000 miles apart, we hadn't had much in the way of communication over the past two or three years, save for holiday cards and the occasional note. My mother lives right down the street from his house, so I was able to keep up with him through her a little. I had hoped he would live a few more months and we might see him at Thanksgiving. I have some jelly beans I wanted to give to him.
My grandfather had a killer handshake. He had an incredibly muscular body, even in old age. He was so fit. He and I both loved the same style pair of polyester leisure slacks, and he gave me several from his own stash. Unfortunately, both of us grew out of them, me due to my "baby weight" and he due to his stomach hernia.
My grandparents lived in the south while I was growing up in New Hampshire. Louisiana and Florida, maybe another state, I can't remember. When we'd visit, I loved, LOVED their house. Each room had a different theme: the Florida room, the yellow room, the green room. There were all these coordinating knick-knacks to look at. I remember laying on the bed with my grandfather and watching The Munsters in black and white on hot afternoons. It's such a peaceful memory. We'd go fishing a lot. Did we use Church's Chicken as bait, or am I making that up? On a deep sea fishing trip out of Tampa one time I spent the whole trip inside the boat cabin, green to the gills.
There were so many things about my grandfather that endeared him to my brother and me. The ten inch high faded tattoo of a raven haired woman in a red strapless dress on his calf, for one. His toilet seat with the coins embeded in it, for another. The constant singing and whistling. He'd walk through the room singing a description of what you or he might be doing at the time, just "doot-de-doo" and singing the obvious and walking past. We found it hilarious. We loved to swim in his overchlorinated swimming pool. It would make our eyes burn so badly, but we got a good laugh out of it. We shared his appreciation for extremely spicy food, and loved to eat the jalapeños right off the plant in his backyard. In more recent years he'd whip up a gallon of fresh salsa if he knew we were coming for a visit. He had a giant tall bird (an egret?) that visited him every day from the pond behind his house. It would actually peer into his kitchen window looking for him, I saw it with my own eyes.
He had a thing for candy, which as I write this I realize I inherited from him.
I wish I knew more specifically which ones, but my grandfather served in SO MANY WARS. I know it was Navy***. I don't know too many stories, wish I knew more. But this man was in there, taking care of business. I know nothing about stripes and bars, but looking at the photo above, I'd say he was highly decorated.
My family of immediate relatives is small, although I married into a big family, and I do have many cousins on my mother's side. Besides the actual loss of this man, William Corrick, what is getting to me today is the reduction in the size of my tribe. There aren't a lot of us left. That really makes me think.
Rest in peace, Grandpa.
***My mother informs me that this is an Air Force uniform, and that my grandfather served for 16 years in the Navy followed by 17 years in the Air Force.