Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy 95th, Grandpa!

Today is my grandfather's 95th birthday.

Ever since I was in elementary school, he's been saying "well, I probably won't be around to see you graduate high school/graduate college/get married"--the fill in the blank kept changing as he saw each of those milestones pass. I don't think he ever dreamed he'd see me have kids of my own, but he's got some amazing longevity, obviously. He developed type II diabetes in his forties and was told he wouldn't live past sixty. He continued to drink whole milk and eat pickled pigs feet and sweets, and he's still here. That doctor probably died decades ago.

Grandpa was born in 1914 in Warren, Ohio. He was in and out of the Navy several years before WWII even started. He and my grandmother were married in 1937, so they are going on 73 years of marriage. They met at a dance hall called The Majestic, in Long Beach, California, when he was on shore leave. He worked for General Electric for many years and has now been retired longer than he worked.
I will always remember the time he found a baby bunny in the backyard and brought it in for me to hold. I remember when he killed a snake in the yard because it scared me. I remember when he told me not to eat his Butterfinger because it would "break my teeth." Years later, when I had a Butterfinger for the first time, I was surprised at how easily it crunched, and came to the conclusion he just didn't want to share his candy. (Did I mention his sweet tooth?)

I'll remember how he pronounces "gums" as "gooms" and always insists you don't have enough light to read or do whatever other task you are working on. I'll remember how mechanical he was and how he fixed things out on his workbench and built bookcases and other things for my family. I'll remember the stories he told about the Navy and about G.E.--the same stories over and over again. I'll remember how he would stare at me, smiling with love, and say "you look like a movie star."

I love you, Grandpa! Have a very happy birthday!

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