Saturday, March 25, 2017

A belated birthday wish

Yesterday would have been my grandpa’s 93rd birthday. I went through the whole day with the thought in the back of my mind, but when someone is gone, and they lived a long life (he was 89 when he passed), that knowledge is something you carry with you. There’s nothing really to say to anyone, though you go through the day thinking about that person and wishing they were still around. Even when they had a long life, it’s never long enough for me.

So today, I just want to wish him a belated birthday and share some gratitude.

While I was a bit of a handful and “sparkler” when I was younger, I was somewhat afraid  (maybe intimidated is a better word?) of my Grandpa. He was very similar to Archie Bunker to me for many years. He had a special chair to watch TV from, and no one would dare sit in it. He didn’t like lines, because it reminded him of the Army, and he didn’t like the Army. He loved Oreos and Caramel pie. And the Cubs (I SO wish he was still alive to see them finally win!).

me and grandpa.jpgAt some point, maybe when he retired - he became much less intimidating to me. Maybe it was because we shared a love of swing music and I would ask to listen to it in car rides. Maybe it was because I was interested in hearing about books he read (He loved to read books about American history). Maybe it was because I gave him a talking Ronald Reagan doll for Christmas one year (our political views did not align, so I think he doubly appreciated it - I still have the doll). As I got older he would tell us stories about how he built his first house, how he saw Frank Sinatra in concert, or how he hitchhiked back to IL from California in WW2.

In any case, as I became older, I realized how much he thought of me. I joke about how he called me a “sturdy” girl once, because even though it’s sort of offensive, I felt glad he noticed I was pretty strong. He would come to all of my performances in high school musicals, college recitals, and CSO Christmas shows. Every Christmas he would ask if I would sing “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Puccini. He didn’t listen to opera, but he loved that aria when he heard me sing it at my recital. And when I became a teacher, he thought I should go for a principal position, because he saw me as someone who could take charge.

These things mean a lot to me, knowing that my Grandpa was raised in a society that placed more value on boys than girls. I know my mother had some difficulties being the only girl, and the oldest, in her family. She had different expectations than her brother. So I appreciate that my Grandpa always recognized my abilities, my intelligence, and my hard work in life.

And I wish him a Happy Birthday.



  1. I like the way you wrote about carrying his birthday around in your head. It sounds like your grandpa was a special guy.

  2. Today would have been my Grandma's 91 birthday. She also passed away at 89 and it also wasn't long enough. It sounds like your Grandpa was a lasting influence. ❤

  3. I've come to the conclusion that the longer we have someone in our lives, the harder it is to say goodbye. My grandmother died at 97 years old; my own children had their great grandmother in their lives longer than their grandmothers. He sounds really special - the greatest generation. Your ending is wonderful, "So I appreciate that my Grandpa always recognized my abilities, my intelligence, and my hard work in life." It just goes to show that age brings wisdom.

  4. I always think of my two grandfathers on their respective birthdays. Even though they are both gone they aren't truly gone. This post was beautiful and it sounds like your Grandfather was a wonderful person.

  5. He sounds like such a proud grandpa. And you have such beautiful memories to hold onto.

  6. What a lovely tribute. I've been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately, so I doubly appreciated this.