My grandfather passed away last night. Grandpa Brown was my mother's dad. He was an intelligent, artistic, loving and kind man. Of course, there are not enough positive adjectives to show his true character. When I was young he smelled like pipe tobacco and awed me with his crossword puzzle abilities. He was at once imposing and fascinating. He built airplanes and wooden yo-yos and volunteered at the hospital.
I have a lot of memories of my grandfather, some of them were borrowed from my mother, but they are all still mine to keep.
There are four girls and one boy (the youngest) in my mom's family. For quite a while it was just girls. My mom used to tell us how her dad would help get them ready for school by brushing their hair and putting it into pigtails. She always recanted, with much drama, how he would brush their hair so hard their heads would ache and then proceed to pull it into the tightest circle possible, leaving them with mini-facelifts and almond-shaped eyes.
I was lucky enough to spend some summer time with my grandparents when I was young. My grandpa made the best breakfasts. He would fix silver dollar pancakes and sausage links. I had never had pancakes that small before. He sat at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee and the morning paper- then proceed to his chair in the living room with the crossword puzzle.
I always gravitated toward his shop in the garage. It smelled so good. Shavings and saw dust from several different types of wood gave it a great perfume. My grandpa wasn't always building cabinets or making multicolored vases. Sometimes he sat in his shop watching the news or a baseball game on his small black and white TV, and I imagine he was enjoying the smell too.
One summer he flew me home in the plane he had built. I thought he was the coolest man in the world. I still do.
One of my favorite memories is of my grandpa sitting in a chair at my mom's house with my youngest daughter on his lap. I think she was around two-years-old. He was reading her a Christmas book and she looked up at him just like I had at her age- with wonderment and love.
I didn't get to see my grandfather much in the last ten years. He and my grandmother moved to Oklahoma, which always seemed worlds away. Two years ago I drove with my mom and aunt from California to Oklahoma to visit. I was surprised at how much older my grandpa looked, while still looking the same. Does that make sense? He didn't get around as well as he used to, but you could still find him in a favorite chair with a thriller/suspense novel and his quick wit and wonderful sense of humor were never lacking.
Although my kids didn't get to know him as well as I would have liked, they were lucky enough to spend some time with him and through stories from myself and my mother, they were surrounded by him in spirit. His passing makes me very sad, but I am so grateful to have known him. I will not forget him, and I will not let my children forget him either.
**If anyone has any other pictures they would like to share, please email them to me and I will add them to this post.