My Grampa died at the end of June, and I've been reflecting a lot about him and my Grammy since then. I've wanted to write some about him here, but have felt inadequate in doing so. I fear I will not be able to sufficiently honor him. I'll do my best though, to briefly describe this special man and his life.
During the sermon at my grandfather's funeral, the priest who had first known my grandmother by working on some Church stuff together, said that when he did finally meet my grandfather, his first impression was that he was "the quintessential absent-minded college professor." Nailed it. My grandfather was a music professor at Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX. He was a talented musician and could play most instruments. He also built many instruments. He taught organ and carillon, and was an organist for his church. The summer carillon concert series at Tech is named for him. He was incredibly smart, passionate and opinionated, active in his church and faith, and kind to others. Oh, and he wore bolo ties. And it was awesome.
He was raised Christian Scientist, however some events later in his life, including discovering he had a heart condition that had gone untreated while trying to enlist in the Army, led him to feel strongly that this denomination was "neither Christian, nor science." He met my grandmother at the University of Montana, and they were married in the Episcopal Church on June 9, 1953. It was a joke among my family that Grampa would always ask about the next meal, such as "Are we going to have dinner tonight?" We laughed about this because not only was he going to get dinner, but it was surely going to be something quite tasty from my grandmother, who was a wonderful cook. But my mom thinks he probably did this from growing up during the Great Depression, when the next meal was not always a certainty. He was very social and friendly. He always wanted to make sure his guests had a drink. But as I mentioned, he could be quite absent-minded, and my dad says that Grampa would offer him a Manhattan when he would come over to see my mom in high school! My sister has fond memories from her childhood, in which my Grampa would give her the cherry out of his Manhattan. The last few times Jaron and I have gone out, I've gotten a Manhattan as a way to remember him. Delicious. Good choice, Grampa.
When I was in college in Fort Worth, my grandparents were living in Denton, and I loved to visit them to get away for bit, eat a delicious home-cooked meal, and receive the comfort of family. I've been thinking of these visits often, and I'm grateful that I had the opportunity for them. I spent a lot of time asking them about the past, their families, my mom and her sisters. One thing that was so obvious to me during that time was how proud they both were of their three daughters. I also saw the devotion and love that they had for each other, as well as the value they placed on family, the Church, helping others and advocating for the less fortunate.
As I said, family was important to him and he would make trips to visit distant relatives. The last several years he had been working diligently on his family's genealogy. He and Grammy enjoyed traveling around the country and to other parts of the world, including Europe and Mexico. During some of these travels, Grampa performed the organ and carillon. My Aunt Polly, a fabulous classical guitarist, joined him for some of the performances as well. He continued to travel as he was able, after my grandmother died 5 years ago.
My Grampa was dearly loved and admired by his family and friends, and we miss him greatly. However, I delight in being able to imagine my grandparents together again... him asking if they're going to have the next meal, her sweetly rolling her eyes. Rest in peace.
Watch out for the hippies!
At my wedding, June 2005
After Grampa's funeral, July 2013