Some people would say my grandfather was eccentric. However, to my daughter Lexi, he was a kindred spirit — intriguing in his nuances, which included spontaneous serenades, read-alouds of business signs as you drove by, and the ability to fall asleep whenever, wherever, and no matter the company or what might be happening (such as Twizzlers being placed in his open mouth as he snored).
One of my favorite photos of him was a much younger version, yet old enough to have the standard grey grandfather comb-over, standing me as an infant on his lap at Christmastime. After Lexi came with my mom and I to Seattle in 2009 during spring break, my new favorite picture is one of Grandma, myself, then eighteen month old Lexi, and Grandpa sitting on their couch. In this one, however, Grandpa is looking at Lexi as he points to the camera trying to get her to look in that direction. Lexi keeps looking at Grandpa, a slight smile on her face, as if she’s thinking, “What is this goofy man telling me?” She looks at him, enamored with his slight awkwardness, the qualities that endeared him to most people. I wonder just how many sweets he slipped her during our visit that week.
The sweetness about Grandpa is that no matter the distance between us, he was constantly slipping “treats” to us. People at Trinity, my dad’s parish and the school associated with it, where I work as an office assitant, expressed their condolences by reminding me of the lucky sweet my cousin Stephanie and I share — he was at our weddings. People told me over and over again, “oh, I remember he and your grandmother dancing at your reception; they were so in love.”
In recent years, it has been a treat to be able to visit him and my grandma in Kent and to share moments with Grandpa as he talked about his mother, who we often heard, “was a Remington,” kin to the western scenery painter Fredric Remington. Other treats were photos of his roses in every birthday, anniversary, thinking-of-you, and holiday greeting cards. Lexi has taped on her wall — all on her own — the many flower photos we have received through the years.
When I received the phone call about Grandpa’s death, Lexi and my son, Emry, gathered around me and asked “why are you crying mommy?” I told them my grandpa in Seatlle had died. What four year olds know of death, I don’t really understand, but Lexi simply teared up and said, “Oh no, Seattle grandpa, I loved him.” It was a treat to know him and love and be loved by him. Those actions were the best sweets he gave us.