I have lots of wonderful memories of my grandfather.
Playing in the basement of his house on PA days. How he always remembered my love of anything tiny, and made me display units to exhibit my extensive collection of wee little trinkets, like the plastic duck, or the ceramic cottage. Trips to Swiss Chalet. Our cottage, where for years he would drive up on holiday, and spend his only time off the whole year building new steps down to the beach, or chopping wood for the fire, or whatever needed to be done. Spending the day walking around his hometown with him, hearing all about his childhood, and how life was in small town Ontario in the early half of the last century. How he wanted to hear about whatever I was doing. The giant dollhouse he built me - all on his own, complete with working electricity.
There are some less pleasant memories too.When my grandmother died, the woman he had been carrying on a long-term affair with came to the funeral. He married for a second time, and it was not a good match. He drifted away from his family, as she only wanted to see hers. But being of his generation, and being the man he was, he did not consider divorce an option, even when he knew it would be best. That drove me nuts, and not just because it meant I had to listen to her bloviate on every topic under the sun, from being an undergraduate, to how my parents should put their good china in the dishwasher.
When he couldn't get up and down stairs on his own anymore, the decision was reached that he would move into a home. His wife didn't want to go with him, and the slow process of divvying up the assets began. When he moved into Central Park Lodge, he flourished. He was around people he enjoyed, and he became quite the popular man around the lodge. He met a woman soon after moving in, and they soon became an item. He couldn't marry her, which she wanted, because of his wife, but they spent every day together. She took him up north on a boat ride. She took him on day trips. For the first time in ages, he was happy. Then he started to get worse, and she started doing more things on her own, preparing for life after him, but first thing every morning she'd have breakfast with him, and she'd stop in for lunch and after dinner. She sat with him and talked to him and made sure his food was cut up small enough.
A treasured memory I have of my grandfather is one I know I've created from a picture taken long before I was born. He is wearing a fedora, and a smart coat. He is kneeling down in the snow, and looking up at the camera with the grin he wore so often. He is young, dashing, and his kids aren't even a glint in his eye.
He died one year ago today. This morning, his girlfriend called us to tell us how much she loved him, and what a wonderful man he was.
He was my last link to that generation. Grandaddy, I miss you. We all do.