***This is what my husband, Bryan wrote and read during his Grandfather’s funeral service today. The service was short, sweet and exactly what Granddad would have appreciated. I have also included some pictures of the day–don’t worry, I asked my in-laws first if I could take a few pictures and they were happy for me to. All in all, we survived the day.
The first thing that I noticed after I knew he was gone was just how still it was over at his house. Deafening silence. Broken by the sound of the air conditioner coming on. It sounded out of place. Like it was intruding. Cheap and Tinny. Even though he had been out of there for close to 3 weeks, things changed right then. His home, now just a house, became more still and more empty.
I can remember growing up when I realized that his name wasn’t “Granddad.” It struck me as strange since that was the only way I knew him. Steady, loving patience to a fault is what I remember from my childhood. Going fishing with Granddad. Being carted hither an yon. Swimming lessons. Piano lessons. Other lessons that I’ve long since forgotten. He was there and willing and happily involved, and I’m now realizing how fortunate I was to have that. Many don’t.
My kids don’t know this “Lloyd,” but they can tell you all about “Great Granddad.” When each of them encountered him early in their lives, they were a little scared of his gravelly voice. In typical Granddad fashion, he solved the problem in a quick, simple and easy way. What started out as sharing an oatmeal cream pie every Saturday progressed to “some” candy and an oatmeal cream pie. Naturally, it grew from there into a satchel of candy with some other stuff thrown in. Bribery aside, they knew him as a wonderful old guy who who enjoyed tending his chickens and garden, really liked tinkering around with his old cars, and loved to see his great grandkids.
Many of you know him in different ways: as Brother, Uncle, Father, or “Friend”. And while he was different things to us, we all learned that he could be relied upon in a few specific ways:
He was a natural born “fixer of things.” If a household or automotive “something or other” decided to be cantankerous, well… he was even more so. And stubborn. The offending item would eventually, inevitably submit and return proper function at his hand with apologies.
If an unusual tool was called upon to complete a repair, there was little doubt that he would have it with the caveat that it might take a little time to find.
“Green Thumb” doesn’t begin to say it. He had the knowledge and the knack to get things to grow, and grow well. Did you know that if you wait ‘till your corn is a little past mid shin high, you can plant your runner beans beside the corn? The corn provides automatic bean support. Some of you may already know that one, but I learned it from him. That’s a minor example of the common sense ingenuity that he had in abundance.
He was always quick with a story and had a good wit, so I have to tell one of his stories here: In his youth (just driving), he and a friend found themselves in downtown Duluth. A couple of girls came walking by and his friend said as many a young man would, “You sure are pretty.” One of the girls replied, “I wish I could say the same.” Ever pithy, Granddad replied, “You could if you lied like he did.”
While he was many things to many people, and while it’s doubtful that there are any among us who would, there may be a few left in this world who remember Granddad as a fierce warrior. He was drafted as a young man and taken to basic training in Oregon after which he landed on the shores of North Africa. From there he proceeded to Southern Italy from whence he walked to the mountains of Northern Italy. Of course, thrown into that epic foot journey was a great deal of combat and suffering the heat, cold, rain, snow, and withering sun. The loss of acquaintances and dear friends along the way. He told me one story of when he was in the mountains of Northern Italy. His platoon was deployed to hold a saddle between two mountain peaks. When the order to withdraw came, he didn’t get it. He was crouching in a hole left by a mortar shell, and as darkness fell, the Germans approached up a gully. He could hear them talking. He stayed there and fought–fired every rifle round he had. The barrel of his BAR actually melted. He took the rifle of a fallen comrade from a nearby mortar crater and then fired every round he could find. By morning the only weapons of offense left to him were his sidearm and his bayonet, but he was still there. While I never saw the warrior in him, I’m very familiar with that single minded resolve that he displayed then and throughout his life.
The war left it’s marks on Granddad both physical and mental, but it failed to define him. While acknowledging what he went through, remembering it and being impacted by it, he was still the most gentle, steady and dependable person I’ve ever known. He set a standard for how to live your life that very few can hope to match.
That house sure is quiet now, and I feel a little more alone in the world. For such a retiring person and personality, he sure leaves a gaping void, much larger than one unassuming man should be able to leave. Granddad, you will be missed mightily and by many. We love you, and we’ll never forget you.