Grandpa (my dad) was born February 26, 1930. He passed away on August 27, 2019. He was 89 years old.
Unfortunately, Sydney only had the chance to know Grandpa for six years of her life and only about three times per year. Most of those visits she already doesn’t recall and so, likely, Sydney will have only vague memories of Grandpa.
My dad was my hero in life. Interestingly, we didn’t have all that much in common. My dad was not very social, liked to watch sports rather than play them, and didn’t travel much out of the western US. He was not much of a wine or beer connoisseur. He worked in government and didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in his body.
We of course had some things in common. My dad loved the outdoors and gifted that love of hiking and camping to me. He was interested in politics and loved to sit down and talk current events. Regardless of how much we had in common, for most of my adult life I have felt closer to my dad than to any other human.
I think part of it was that he was, many times, the only person who took the time to try to understand me and my life. I remember when I was younger, coming home from living abroad, traveling, or studying away at university. I might have just had the most amazing journey or experience. Most of my friends and family would ask one or two general questions such as “How was it?” My dad, though, would take notes while I was gone as ideas and questions occurred to him and then, a few days after I got home (so as not to overwhelm me) ask me about my experiences.
Almost everyone who met my dad loved him, in large part because of that ability to take an interest in other people and ask them about their lives. However, there was a flip side in that he was quite aware a large portion of the population were “monologists” who dominated conversations. Apparently my dad did not enjoy all his conversations but one would not have known it.
The fact that Sydney did not know Grandpa well is sad for me and probably will be sad for Sydney. It is a result of the life I chose for myself, marrying and have a child late, and not something I will dwell on now.
As my dad was deteriorating in health, I took a trip home to Seattle earlier this month and purposefully did not take Sydney. I did not want her to have memories of Grandpa that would displace the good ones she currently has. During that visit I was able to help my family improve his care, read five chapters of my memoirs to my parents (that I had worked hard to write before he died but have not quite completed in entirety), and say goodbye. I was able to tell him he was my hero, although I am not sure he understood what I meant by that.
I used to think I would be devastated when my dad passed away. But I believe I am now at peace with it. It is part of the circle of life, which is much easier to understand now that Sydney is on that circle with me, providing me with the same roles and responsibilities Grandpa had when I was little. Goodbye, Grandpa / Dad. Sydney and I will miss you.