January 21, 2013
Well, I have started this entry in my head several times, but have yet to put the pen to paper or should I say fingers to keys. Finally, the time seems right to give this a go and see what comes of it.
Dear Grandpa Jim,
It has been a little over a month and a half since I last was able to hold your hand and say one last good bye. Just about two months since we last spoke, I definitely miss your deep voice that would greet me whenever I crossed your threshold.
I just got back from the inauguration a little bit ago. What a spectacle to see! It is amazing to think back to everything our country has been through to get to this point. Of course, you lived much of that from the Depression to World War II to the Cold War to the post-War economic boom to Vietnam to the fall of Communism to watching our Nation elect a President who in a different era would have been enslaved by his fellow man. Man, the distance we have come.
But enough about that and the experience, you have always indulged my stories. Now let me talk with you as you would have it, possibly with a gin martini over a game of cards or maybe a twilight round of golf at Medinah.
One thing which got repeated a great deal at your funeral and wake was the fact that you were always present. Always available. Someone who could be relied on to be a source of strength and assurance. Your presence may not have always been the most noticeable in the room, but you were there. I remember countless family parties catching you conversing with family about their topics of interest. Never did you speak of your success as an engineer, about how you served in the Navy, or the many charities you gave to. It was always more important to hear about Benet basketball, the Chicago Cubs, or what people were learning in school. You taught me that at times being present for people is far more important than drawing in the attention.
Along with you presence, you taught me the importance of humility. Surely one can celebrate their accomplishments, but never should one boast about what they have accomplished. It is far more important to continue your life in the service of others than in the honor of oneself. You never shoved you achievements in the face of those around you to garner their compliments. A feat which I attempt every day to achieve.
Another great quality you taught me early on was the importance of fun in life. From throwing pitches to me in the backyard to the chilly Spring White Sox games to your deep singing voice belting out Danny Boy at every opportune moment, I have always learned that life is not to be taken too seriously. While it is important to pursue goals and dreams, it is also ok to crack open a beer after a long day to share a conversation with friends and family.
I have learned a lot in the last few weeks without you here, but feel like I have missed out on so many conversations. I would love to sit at the dinner table more over some strawberry rhubarb pie and a glass of wine to talk more with you. I want to pick your brain about what life was like between college and marriage. I hope to learn how to be a supportive Father and caring Grandfather from your example. I would like to ask you questions on faith and finding happiness. I cannot express the regret I have in not asking you enough about yourself. I have learned so much since December about you and the amazing experiences you had. I can only hope to learn more and continue to reflect on the time we had.
Not a day has gone by that I have not thought about you and missed you dearly. I can only hope that one day I will get to sit with you and talk again. You are in my thoughts and prayers forever and always.
CROSSING THE BAR By Alfred Lord Tennyson (This was on the back of the prayer cards)
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
Well Until Next Time Friends, Be Safe and Make Good Decisions…