Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Loosing A Loved One While Abroad

Gramps and his entire family.  Kona, HI  7/09
This blog entry is a tribute to my grandfather. He left this world on Wednesday (11/30), at the age of 87. He was surrounded by his wife of 56 years, his oldest son, and his daughter; my mom. Although I knew his body had been failing him for sometime and that he wasn't going to live forever, his passing has been hard to digest, especially being so far away from home. I feel quite helpless, but luckily the guilt is lessened a bit by technology (Skype, email, etc). My mom has been trying to update me almost everyday, which has been good. I am happy to be in the loop from across the world.

My grandfather did not want a memorial service.  I am left with memories I will cherish, even if they seem small, or trivial. Here are some of the things I remember, find funny, and admire about the man I knew as my grandpa:

1).  He had an amazing memory.
2).  He wasn't the best driver. He used to floor it between stoplights and then brake abruptly when the light turned red.  Those who rode with him know exactly what I'm talking about.
3).  He was a whiz at Crossword puzzles.
4).  He taught himself Spanish.
5).  He loved reading. I was impressed that he read books in Spanish.
6).  He didn't put up with whining when I was a kid. He used to tell me as an adult that I turned out so good because he gave me the occasional spanking when I younger.
7).  He had the best laugh and smile.
8).  He hated chicken and turkey from the work he did when he was younger.  On Thanksgiving, he would eat whatever substitute my grandma would make for him.
9).  He was an extremely hard worker and did a variety of interesting work (real estate, worked at a slaughtering house, Pile Driver, Navy, etc).
10). I have many memories of us relaxing at the beach in Del Mar, CA and some vague memories of the condo in Mexico.
11). He loved his cats.
12). He was so proud of me for graduating from college (even though I was 35).
13). He was proud of Justin for getting an Engineering degree. My grandpa went to 3 years of Engineering school at The University of Washington then had to drop out of school. He was happy to give Justin his slide-rule years ago.
14). He was the youngest of 6. His parents were immigrants from Norway.
15). He loved his family very much. 

Since moving to Japan I would get regular emails from my grandparents saying how much they liked this blog. My grandpa was in Yokohama during the war, and probably went to some of the places I have written about. I'm so happy that I was able to connect with him from afar.

While I am sad I will not be able to see him again, I am happy that he's in a better place.  He wrote a very large memoir and I am really looking forward to reading it. 

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