Sunday, February 27, 2005
Mr. JuJu's Eulogy For His GrandfatherWe are all here today to celebrate the life of my Grandfather, Joe . And I am fortunate enough to get to share a few memories of the man who was described by many at last night’s wake as a wonderful person, who loved life.
In my work, I deal with numbers. Here are a few I’ve noticed:
Grandpa was the last of six children.
He had one beautiful wife.
Three wonderful children.
Four fabulous grandchildren.
One great grandchild, with another on the way.
And of course hundreds and hundreds of lives that he impacted along the way.
The one thing I’m wondering about, though, is the head of hair he had as a young man. His wedding picture or the photos of him in military uniform show a luxurious head of hair. I thought your hair genes were passed down through your mother’s father? I guess I was wrong.
My grandfather, born August 1922, was part of the greatest generation of Americans that came of age during the Depression, volunteered so willingly to protect our freedoms and built the nation we have today. You could not have known my grandfather and not heard him recount a story of his days on the waist gun of a B-17 during World War II. Following the war, he settled in and carved out a niche in the landscaping business. He was a man who was passionate about his convictions, who probably shortchanged himself when he admitting to knowing two things in his life: fertilizer and football.
While, I’m not so sure about the football, we all know Grandpa knew his fertilizer. His yard was a shrine to tulips and evergreens and peat moss and he was always at the ready with his snippers.
My memories of my Grandpa are of a man who was hard-working and at least to me, took on a larger-than-life quality.
In 1987, Grandpa took me on my first and only trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He and I spent a glorious day together, with Grandpa walking me through the Hall and talking about all of the great players that played when he was just a boy. He played catch with me in the driveway and pitched in the backyard on long weekends at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was one night for dinner, though, that I remember so vividly. We ate in the garage on Southgate during the summer and Grandpa tried cajoling me into eating beets – something, by the way, I have not done before or since. He said, don’t you want to be a great baseball player? I of course said yes. And he would follow with, well Babe Ruth ate his beets and he was a great home run hitter. I could have told him that it’s more likely Babe Ruth was eating hot dogs, drinking beer and smoking cigars than eating beets, but let’s just say Grandpa was right and the reason I’m not on my way to a Hall of Fame career was a few red beets at age seven.
I was never more in awe of my Grandpa than I was at an airshow I attended with him and my Dad. We had not been at the show long when we came upon a B-17. After showing us how they climbed into the plane back in the 1940s, with a full pack on, Grandpa recounted in vivid detail what it was like to fly over Germany in the heat of the war. As we moved through the plane, Grandpa held court. He mesmerized the folks in front of and behind us with stories from the war. My eyes were wide with interest and it must have been at that moment I gave my Grandpa a new label: Hero.
Of course, he was a hero to all of us in different ways. He took me golfing, made us apple pancakes on Sunday mornings, always had ice cream in the freezer and never let me win at horseshoes.
However, time has a strange way of causing things to fade. Over the years, the mind failed, then so did the body. But along the way we discovered other things about Grandpa. He had the most radiant blue eyes that seemingly no one knew about. He had an infectious, ever-present smile. And he just loved people.
But it was my sister, Julie, who pointed out the one thing that didn’t fade, and I’m sure many of you noticed this: his hands. Those big strong hands were there until the end. Hands that cradled each of his children and grandchildren. Hands that turned a patch of dirt into art. Hands that crafted the finest Christmas wreaths Western New York has ever seen – the wreath business has taken a serious hit with his passing. Hands that threw ringer after ringer at the horseshoe pit. Hands that guided two daughters down the aisle. Hands that you all took in greeting and peace. And now, after 15 years, those hands are back where they belong, hand-in-hand again with his beloved Jeannie.
On behalf of my family, I want to thank all of you for being here today to share in the life of our grandpa, father, uncle and friend. I want to leave you with the following blessing:
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sunshine warm upon your face
And rains fall soft upon you fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Godspeed, Grandpa, Godspeed.
• Posted by JuJubee @ 2/27/2005 03:23:00 PM • • •