Thursday, February 9, 2012

Good-bye Sweet Man

Last weekend my family and I said good-bye to one of the most incredible men I've ever known. My sweet grandfather. He was 90 years old and had achieved so much in his life. So, the least I can do is write somewhat of a "tribute" blog to him.

My grandfather was born in  the 1920's on a farm. He was one of 14 children born into the home. He worked as soon as he was old enough to on the family farm. The food they ate was a product of all of their hard work. It was a humble life, but they were proud of it.

The Army called my grandfather to serve his country. He fought in WWII. When he came home, he married my grandmother whom he was madly in love with. Together they had three boys, including my father.

He opened up his own auto repair shop in 1962. He lso taught classes for women...teaching them how to change tires and such. Things that would be useful knowledge to them since their husbands  were at war.

My grandfather was an honest and hardworking man. He was a man of honor, dignity, and respect. He believed a handshake was as good as a signed contract.

When I was in the 8th grade, I interviewed him for a school paper. At the time, I thought it was just a simple task. Now though...I cherish those moments I spent with him, learning about his life. 

About how he would trade eggs for pencils. 
About how he built his very own bicycle.
About how when he was in the war, they took a ship to France. On the way there, he was so very seasick. When he got off the boat, he asked someone how you would get a citizenship in France. They said " wouldn't be hard, but why would you want to?? There's nothing here!" To which he replied "I'll do it if it means I don't have to get back on that boat!"

There was a moment though, when he began talking about my grandmother, who had passed away when I was 4. He could hardly get through his choked up tears to talk about her. He missed her so very much.

I have so many great memories of him. We would go to his house every single Saturday when he lived at his house. Even in his 80's, you would find him sweating up a storm in his garden. While most of us would whine at that kind of work, it was so inbred in him. I will always admire him for that. 

He would plant fake snakes around the garden to "scare" us. He would give us candy that I'm sure had to have come from the WWII era. He left his house the exact way my grandmother had left it, never wanting to erase her presence. 

The last thing he said before he passed away was..."I'm happy." What great words. 

At his funeral, I learned that my dad and uncles were going through some of his possessions. They found that not only had he received a Bronze Star in the war, but that he had turned down a purple heart. He never spoke of any of this to anyone. Ever. Just one last way to show that his humbleness. 

I'm a Christian person and I adore my God. He made an incredible person when he presented the world with Frank Holcombe. May we all strive to be as humble and hard working as he was. He was a true example of what a real man is supposed to be. I know he is reunited with the love of his life, and I am so at peace knowing that he doesn't have to miss her anymore.

I love you Paw Paw.