And that man was my Grandfather.
I’m thankful that…
… my Pa Pa was the kind of man who cried at every christmas gift he received but could never vocalize his pride for his family in more than a brief hug or a knowing glance - but something about opening Christmas gifts always made him get teary-eyed and say “Oh guys this is just BEAUUU-TI-FUL! Oh JEESE guys this is SO nice. You guys are TOO much - I love you” Seeing him so happy was always the greatest part of my Mom’s Christmas.
… since I was a little girl when things were really great, when we were doing something genuinely awesome - he would look at me and say, “I’ve never seen it so bad Allie - what about you? Have you ever seen it so bad?” I’d say, “No way Pa Pa! NEVER seen it so bad this is the WORST!” and then two of us would laugh - the last time we shared this joke was Christmas Day - we were drinking pink champagne and eating oysters. He then went on to tell me all the places he had eaten oysters in his life, and how my Grandma doesn’t eat them so it “ain’t everyday I get one of these - pass the cocktail sauce would ya?”
… I always sang him Happy Birthday in the same silly little kid voice - and he would always pick up on his birthday - find out it was me - ask me to wait - put me on speaker phone and then let me sing for the group huddled up around the kitchen table. I am happy I remembered to do that last Thursday, and I am happy he picked up the phone.
… for being taught what love is by two people like my Grandparents. For being worried that my Grandmother won’t be able to live without him, but knowing she is stronger than me and will be OK in time. Whenever someone new met my Grandparents, they would show that newbie a picture from the day they got married. In the picture, they are sitting in the back of a car, just married-youngsters, my Grandfather has dark hair and eyes and a strong jaw line, my Grandmother is tiny and petite her hair neatly curled and her eyes a sparkly blue - they have the excitement of an unknown lifetime together in their eyes, and you can see how much they love each other and how proud they are of their marriage as they hand a stranger that photo. My Grandma would say “I was a size 0! That was before I ate cake!” and my Grandpa who had since lost his hair says “I got a crew cut and the crew deserted!” People always laugh politely, but for those who really know them - this never got old - it served as a constant reminder at how strong love is.
… “Home Alone” was his favorite movie, he would laugh so hard we would be worried he wasn’t OK. Every time the robber steps on the nail with his bare-foot my Grandfather would grip the arm of who ever was next to him and say “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD THE NAIL THE NAIL! JANEY!!! LOOK HE’S STEPPING ON THE NAIL!!!!!”
My Pa Pa was a great man with a huge laugh and amazing jokes. He will be missed. I wish you all had the privilege of meeting him. Drink a good irish beer and tell a silly joke in his honor.