I've been sad most of the last month; sad because Gramps' health has been declining.
I felt relatively unmoved until these last couple days when I've finally been able to emote. Sometimes when you're an adult you forget how to unchain thick feelings, and I'm glad I remembered. My wife suggested that I blog about how I was feeling, which I thought was a little too personal. I finally decided it'd be a lost opportunity not to testify thankfulness for someone while he's still with you. So, this one's for Gramps.
For those who haven't had the pleasure, you can read an interview with Gramps on the blog here, and he's been a part of several of my chronicles over the years. Of course, that's a thin slice of what Gramps means to me and so many more people. This will hardly be a sample.
I've been told more than once that I show reflections of Gramps, and that's a great compliment. I think I've gained at least my appreciation and motivation in art and architecture from him, and maybe the ears.
It's a little-known fact that I studied architecture all four years of high school, probably inspired by the fantastic car beds he built me and my cousins when we were little, or the grandiose playhouse he built for me and Nina, or the skate ramp he helped me and Scott build when we were teenagers. When Scott and I were working on his deck this past summer, we recalled Gramps' favorite phrase during that ramp-building project: "Boys, make sure the lines are flush." Of course, carpentry isn't my strong suit, and Amanda and I laughed not too long ago at the certificate Gramps created for my completing a "Carpentry 101" project, patching over a spot in his deck when I was still in high school. The certificate says something like, "Exceptionally proficient using a hammer with both hands," which is just a funny statement to read aloud.
After I lost my interest in architecture, I became interested in photography in college. That was all Gramps-inspired. That interest also trickled down to Sergio, and now look at where he's at. Gramps had words of wisdom for photography, too: "Only keep your best, throw away the rest." That advice also applied to dating, as it turns out.
What I've probably learned most from Gramps is an appreciation for storytelling. You can't talk to Gramps for fewer than 10 minutes and without him squeezing in a story about his past careers, daughters or grandchildren. The man loves telling stories and always with that classic story arc: beginning, middle and end; conflict and resolution. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in my modern attempts to amuse you and myself here and practice storytelling professionally.
Of course, his stories are most energetic and passionate when he talks about my grandmother. The appreciation and love he shows for her is just unparalleled. It's pure adoration by action, and I still have a lot of learning to do there. They celebrated their 50-year anniversary this past summer and at the same venue where Amanda and I celebrated our wedding reception just a couple months earlier. He kept telling me, "Your party is just a dress rehearsal for ours." I don't know if he meant it this way or not, but I really took that message as "You're preparing for your 50th wedding anniversary." He was totally right. Comparatively, we were just kids playing dress-up for the bigger show.
Here's the picture of Gramps and Grams at their anniversary dancing for the crowd and then with their four daughters.
I like to pride myself on a lot of accolades by work or luck, but I couldn't hang a hat next to that. What an accomplishment and proud moment.
There are so many great photos of Gramps over the years that I could share, but I wanted to show a handful of my favorites from my and Amanda's wedding.
It's been a busy year for me and a busy year for Gramps between weddings, anniversaries, travels and his declining health. Considering, it meant a lot to me that he and Grams made it all the way out to Indiana for the wedding. I just want to say THANK YOU for making it to my wedding, Gramps! I know that was a milestone for both of us in different ways (you: health, me: partnership), but we did it!