A Legacy of Memories

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
― Shannon L. Alder

October 20, 2014 was the day we lost a treasured member of our family. My grandfather, affectionately called Grampy by his grandchildren, passed away.

Grampy 2
Grampy and me.

At his funeral this past weekend I chose to honor him by reading a eulogy that I wrote. I chose to speak about some of the “smaller” memories of him that I will always treasure; the moments that bring a smile to my face. He left behind a legacy of countless memories of love and laughter so you can imagine how challenging it was to narrow it down. I could have shared some more sentimental memories I have of my Grampy but I would have been way too choked up to read them aloud. For instance, how the last time we danced together was at my wedding when I dedicated the song “What a Wonderful World” to him because it has always reminded me of him.

The following is a portion of the eulogy I gave.

Grampy was a sweet man with a larger than life personality; a true glass-half-full kind of guy. He was quite the social butterfly who’d have an hour-long conversation with a stranger if Grammie hadn’t dragged him away.  After my mom, brother and I moved in with him and Grammie, he became more than my grandfather. He was a second father to me. He has left me with the gift of so many wonderful memories from the 31 years we had together. Although I’d love to share them all with you today, time simply wouldn’t allow it. However I am going to honor him by sharing some of my favorites. The memories that truly encapsulate the person he was in my eyes.

Grampy loved to sing and dance. I remember him walking around the house singing some of his old army songs. He also taught me to dance the waltz and fox trot in our kitchen. Well, at least he tried to teach me…

I remember sitting at the dining room table and he would help me with my math homework. Usually this meant we would end up arguing and I would say something about how that’s not the way my teacher taught me and he would insist on his method being the correct way to do it.

There were many nights I would visit with Grampy in his little man cave. He had a pretty sweet setup in his corner of the basement – complete with a recliner, a small TV, usually for watching basketball since Grammie couldn’t stand the noise of the sneakers squeaking on the court, and his computer where he would read and send emails and play his poker computer game. Usually Texas hold ‘em. And he loved to brag about his winnings. If it had been real money, he would have been a millionaire.

I have so many fond memories of Grampy reading books to me as a young child. I could happily have sat in his lap for hours listening to him read to me. One of our favorites was “The Kangaroo from Woolloomooloo.” He was also great at making up stories of his own. We would make the “long journey” to Trumbull (it was really only about 45 minutes) to visit family and Grampy would keep us entertained with stories he would make up right on the spot. I have vivid memories of riding home at night in the back of my mom’s minivan, Grampy’s arm around me while telling a story, with the sound of Light 100.5’s Pillow Talk playing in the background.

He always loved reading to me. I loved having him read to me more though.
He always loved reading to me and I always loved listening.

Grampy would do practically anything to get a laugh out of us. One Christmas Eve sticks out in particular when he decided to surprise everyone by entering the living room in nothing but a white t-shirt, Santa boxers, and a Santa hat. Grammie was absolutely hysterical. Some of us grandchildren claimed to have been scarred for life by it, but I know that thinking of that Christmas Eve brings nothing but smiles.

In some way or another, Grampy has helped shape all of his children and grandchildren into who they are today, myself included. There are so many stories to share, and not enough time to share them today. Stories I plan to share with my children for years to come. Maybe even during those long car rides. That is how I plan to keep his memory alive.

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