This was written by my son Shane, who spoke at my father’s funeral in October 2010. My father was 71 years old when he died, and Shane was 15. I want to share it on this Memorial Day 2012. In our excitement for the unofficial start to Summer, may we always take a moment to remember the meaning of Memorial Day.
At my school there is a chapel speaking program for all grades, but there is a special program for seniors. Every Monday morning the whole school gathers in the church and they are treated to usually about 3 students who share a story about somebody or something that has changed their life. I really thought that my “Pop,” known to most of you here today as Bob, would be the topic of my speech when I became a senior. I envisioned praising my beloved grandfather, only to be welcomed to a warm hug afterwards and then listen to Pop talk about how he is honored and humbled by my decision to choose him as my topic. I know this would be Pop’s reaction because he has been the topic of several papers I have written. He has always been my “go to guy” for important people paper topics. After every paper I have written about him, I always receive a letter or a call from him telling me how he is honored to have me as a grandchild. This is truly the best feeling in the world.
I think everyone here agrees Pop’s death was too soon. In many ways he is like a fine wine. He simply got better with age As I became older I have grown curious about the life of my Pop. My family often spoke about the obstacles of Pop’s past, and how he has grown to overcome them and become at peace with himself. Pop experienced and lived life to the core, and he really got an understanding for why we as humans are put here on this earth. He analyzed and studied everything he undertook down to a tee. Anyone who is here today that had Pop work on their home knows what I mean.
I feel as thought God took Pop away from us early to stress the example of his life and how we can all learn from him and his achievements. Pop was at the pinnacle of his life just before he was diagnosed with cancer. Christmas ’09 was perhaps one of the happiest moments of his life in my eyes. I can still see him sitting back in his chair looking over his family together with a grin on his mouth as if to say, “I’ve done it.”
About mid August I received a call from Pop. At the time I was at the mall with a group of friends. I was surprised that Pop was calling me, knowing that he was recovering from surgery at the hospital. I was greeted by Pop’s customary welcome of a “Hey, how ya doin’ buddy?” We chatted and he told me to always extend a helping hand to others and then he told me he loved me. I hung up thinking nothing special of this call until a few minutes later when I thought that Pop never ever stops caring. Sitting in his hospital bed while on several medications, he still took the time to call me and stress his message of love. It was these actions that made Pop special. As the eldest of Pop’s none grandchildren I want to be his messenger to his grandkids.
When I heard the news that the doctors found more cancer in Pop’s abdomen and that there was nothing else they could do, my first reaction was to go to the hospital. I went in and sat bedside with him. He was unaware that he had merely days to live. I cried on his shoulder and told him I loved him. He told me not to worry, and that he will always be with me. These memories of Pop are imprinted into my head like hand prints in concrete. I wanted to spend every moment of his few final days constantly at his side. I am glad that I did. I was able to express feelings that were deep inside me. I told him how he was the best grandfather I could wish for, and how I have nothing but good memories with him. He expressed his feelings to me.
In his last days you could tell he was getting tired. He said he wanted to go to sleep but he couldn’t. I, too, was getting increasingly tired and started to doze off. Pop instructed that he be moved onto the side of his bed so that I would be able to sleep next to him. My Mom and I made a nook for each of us to rest on the small twin hospital bed and I laid my head upon Pop’s soft stomach as he wrapped his arm around me and drifted asleep. Think of that. A man knowing he is dying, puts aside his own comfort to make room for his grandson to sleep beside him. That is truly special.
A woman came up to me at the wake yesterday and said, “You gave a lot to your grandfather.” “No.” I said, “he gave a lot to me.”
I love you Pop.