It's been five years today since my grandfather, my dad's father, passed away. I know-- it seems like I was just writing a similar post for my mom's father a few weeks ago. Both were extraordinary men who raised my parents well, and helped to pass many positive traits along to me. Granddaddy passed away during the first weeks of my senior year at Vassar. I'll never forget driving from Poughkeepsie to West Hartford alone, stopping at Dunkin Donuts for coffee & a chocolate donut as I did each time I made the drive, and arriving at my grandparents' home in the morning. It was a whirlwind of a day, emotion-filled, family-filled, and then in the very same day I was back on the Vassar campus. I chose to go only for one day because I didn't want to miss crew practice- with hopes of making a seat in the V1. I still think about that, and wish I had stayed for more than one day. I kept the roses from his service in my room at Vassar, and then they found a home dried in Vermont up until only last year.
The day he died was the beginning of a new phase of my relationship with my grandmother. From that moment on, I made an extra effort to be in touch with her- to send postcards, letters, to make visits, to call when I could. I saw, for the first time that was truly tangible, how brief my relationships with my grandparents might be, and I made the most of it. I'm forever grateful for the extra four and a half years I got with her after Granddaddy died, and for the strength of our relationship as I became more of an "adult."
Granddaddy gave me a sweet tooth- for Dove ice cream bars, for vanilla ice cream, particularly for Reese's peanut butter cups. He kept secret bags in the drawers in the den, and I knew just where to sneak in and snag one.
He gave me a fondness for sharp cheddar cheese. Cabot, Grafton, anything that is seriously sharp.
He gave me a passion for boats, for problem-solving, and for laughter.
He built a dollhouse with electricity. It consumed my imaginary world for many years.
Today I wear their wedding band on a chain around my neck.
I'll eat a Reese's this week, and think of you, Granddaddy.
He loved sailing second only to his family.
This poem was a part of his service, on September 14, 2005.
Sea Fever by John Masefield