Eulogy for a grandfather never well known

Drafting out a few words for grandpa’s funeral tomorrow…  feel free to ignore.

I never felt that I knew Dick very well.  Of course, growing up, we didn’t call him that.  We always called him Grandpa S.  We saw him once every few years, but with a thousand miles between Baton Rouge and Des Moines, I suppose that wasn’t too surprising.  While it came 20 years later than I would have liked, I have appreciated being here today and at the visitation yesterday, hearing everyone’s impressions of the man that my grandfather was.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

As generous as you have all been, I would like to share a few stories of my own.  They define how I remember Richard S.

  • About ten years ago, shortly after I finished graduate school, grandpa drove down from Iowa for the graduation ceremony.  While he was there, he hung several paintings that we had left sitting around the house for a few months; fixed an armoire with stripped screws using toothpicks and wood glue (a trick I’ve used ever since); and started talking with K and me about coming back down to build in some book cases (an offer that we regret not taking him up on).  I’ve also seen work he’s done for others… a cross at his church, a display cabinet at his retirement home, a … well, I’m sure many of you have your own examples.  From this I see Richard as a skilled man generous with his time.
  • One of those examples of his sharing his talents is when he came down to Baton Rouge and helped my father convert the attic into a bedroom for my brother, Geoff, and me.  When it came time to build the nooks for the beds, my father did the practical thing and measured the mattresses to figure out the proper length of the bed nooks.  Grandpa came along and added an extra six inches.  Later, he told us proudly that he did that so that as we grew to be as talk as he was, we would appreciate the space for our feet to hang off the bed.  Now, I might be 5’10 on days when I feel like lying.  Over the past, nearly, 40 years, my feet have never hung off of a bed… unless, of course, my head is in the middle of it.  That I wasn’t going to reach 6’4″ was obvious at the time he was building the room; but yet, it struck me as beautifully optimistic.  An optimism worthy of my grandfather.
  • Another time, the family was visiting Des Moines.  I don’t remember where, exactly, we were, perhaps either Irma’s or Norma’s house and we were making “lefse…”  thin, Norweigan potato pancakes that you spread butter and sugar on, roll up and eat.  My mother had been teaching me and Geoff how to cook and so Dick was telling us how the lefse were made.  Now, if you didn’t know (and I can’t imagine that you didn’t), Richard had a *terrible* sense of humor.  There were puns and shaggy dog stories, all of which I’ll spare you.  So as grandpa had talked us through making the lefse dough he tells us that you cook the lefse in an iron pan and that the iron pan is *very* important.  Well, we were a couple of inquisitive, scientifically minded children.  Geoff and I were learning to cook and I could imagine of a few reasons why an iron pan might be needed.  So someone asked, ‘why an iron pan?’  His face lit up.  In hindsight, you could see it.  He gave us the setup and we took the bait.  Grinning broadly he said, “because Norwegians can’t say Aluminumunumum.”  If anyone has other examples of Dick’s humor, please don’t tell me.  Although in fairness, that might also be why grandpa’s lefse didn’t have cinamoniumum.
  • I’ve covered his skills in woodworking, his generosity in sharing those skills, his optimism and his terrible sense of humor.  In my mind, the last thing that defined my grandfather was his love of God.  You could see this in his relationship to his church and his trips to the holy land.  It was for that reason that K and I asked him to officiate at our wedding.  As the groom, I honestly don’t remember that much about homily, although some time in the 3rd hour, it did occur to me that it might have been a bit long 🙂 .

In all seriousness, I believe that having grandpa officiate at our wedding was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  It made the ceremony that much more special to both K and me.

As I said earlier, I’ve never felt that I knew my grandfather as well as I would have liked; but I feel privileged to have known him as well as I did.

So, that’s roughly what I’m thinking.  I’ll have to re-read it tomorrow to see if I still want to say it.

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