Eulogy for my grandfather

My grandfather passed away a few days ago. I wish I had something eloquent to say. I don’t even have that many memories of him, though he was a constant and reassuring presence in my childhood.

Wait, there is one. It’s coming to me just now, as I write this. You see, years ago, before age and illness made him too frail to move, my grandfather loved to take walks. He’d beat the sun up, bolting out the door for his brisk morning stroll. He liked to go and get things — usually the paper, sometimes juice or coffee. One morning, while my grandparents were visiting us when we lived in Kansas, he came back with a Spider-Man comic book for me. My first.

He was a quiet and generous man, my grandfather. Like so many from his generation, he never sought attention, never stood out, and always had a wide smile on his face. He was soft-spoken, though when he did speak, he loved to retell the same stories, over and over — such as the time his drill sargent asked if he knew how to shave, the manner in which he obtained the nickname “Bones”, and the story of his paper shoes. (If you know me, you know it’s a trait that’s genetic.)

I only remember him ever losing his cool once, when he took my mother, my sister, and I on a road trip from Los Angeles to San Diego. The travel had made him tense and nervous, and he was unable to relax. And if you know my father, you know that’s a genetic trait as well.

There was no funeral for my grandfather. Just as in life, he did not want to be the center of attention. He had been lost in Alzheimer’s for years now, but I’m told that before he passed, his eyes glimmered with recognition and he smiled one last time.