Friday, September 23, 2011

When I grow up to be a man...

This was supposed to be just another Friday.  Get the kids off to school, go to work, come home, put the kids to bed, do some chores, watch some TV and then crash out myself.  Never happens that way.  I was sitting at my desk talking to a customer about some issue they were having with their in store point-of-sale system when I started to phase out.  I had already gotten all the of information that I would need to address the issue and he just wouldn't shut up so I started to tune him out.  I looked over at the screen on my tablet and looked at the calendar widget.  One line stood out... "Grandpa passed away..."  There it was in black and white.  I froze in my chair.  Finally the customer let me go and I hung up my phone.  The memories of that day began to creep forward from the recesses of my brain's long term storage.

I had driven to Albany to go to a concert with my friend Chris who had moved out that way a couple of months previous.  I had decided before making the trek from Rochester to Albany that I would stop and visit my grandparents on the way back as it was right on my way home along the New York State Thruway.  It was a Sunday.  I had gotten back to the hotel only a few hours before the bedside phone's ringing woke me up.  I was groggy and a bit incoherent when I picked it up.  It was my mother.  She had called to tell me that my grandfather had passed.  I can't remember much of the conversation that followed.  I hung up the phone; alone in a hotel room I wept.  The pain was almost unbearable.  I didn't understand.  I didn't want to believe it.  I was supposed to be on my way to see him that day and in an instant he was gone from my world and I was left with a hole in my very being.

I drove to my grandparents anyway that day.  I spent the night there and comforted my grandmother as much as I could.

A couple of days after that I stood in front of a crowded room (much as I did a year ago for my father) and spoke of my grandfather.

I attempted to articulate to them how much he meant to me.

I tried to give them my perspective on who he was.... a genius with his hands, a man who could make anything grow, a father, grandfather, husband and son.

A veteran, a scout master, a patriot and a prankster.

A man with no enemies.

A hero to one little boy and an example of true manhood to the man that boy would become.

I miss you grandpa...

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