My grandfather died this morning. It would seem that he went quickly. I don’t know details. I’m not worried about details. What I want to think more about is that way he spent his life.
He was a country doctor when Pasadena, Maryland was still considered country. He made house calls up until, and frequently past, the day of his retirement, and received a letter of commendation Donald Shafer on the event of his retirement. He always had his black leather doctors bag in the back of his car, and tended to our ear infections and sore throats. He always was one of the first people to give a new grandchild or great grand child check ups once they got home. I fondly remembering his giving my first nephew, Alex, his first check up. I’m not sure why this sticks out in my mind, other than the fact the he had such joy in Alex. He loved us all so much, as silly and wrong headed as we often were. If you’ve ever been to his house, you know that ever space is covered with pictures of the one’s he loved. Pictures of wedding, graduations, snap shots and formal portraits, he kept them all.
He was generous to a fault, as my mother and I discovered while going through the mail at his house months ago. Letters in thanks of his support, and in request for continued support were numerous. He organized the sending of medical supplies and clothing to 3rd World countries through the Rotary. In fact, I have very few memories of his dining room when it wasn’t littered with boxes of basic medical supplies, children’s clothes, formula and the like. He rang the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas and was unfailing to lend a hand to his grandchildren and children. I can honestly say I have no idea where my own family would be right now if not for his generosity to us over the years.
He was known by everyone. He always asked the waitresses their names, and it was impossible to go anywhere along Rt 3 and not hear the greeting of “Hey Doc.” My dad was even known to call him “the King of Rt 3.”
But most of all, he was my grandfather. My Grandpa. A voice of encouragement, humor and wisdom. His jokes, silly and occasionally risky, ring in my ears.
This all seems terribly inadequate. A few words splashed on a cyber page. But it’s with tears of gratitude, and of sorrow, that I write this.
To Quote the Bard:
“Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet Prince.
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”