My beloved Grampa Harry passed away from this world, just last week. Grampa was known by a few names; and though most every one called him Harry, we grandchildren made up our own names for him. All on our own, it seems, and each set of grand kids had their own, I noticed when I was little. I remember one set of cousins always called him "Papa" but that never seemed to fit him, not to me. To some of the other's he was Grandpa Smith (I decided not to use his real last name here), but that seemed to stodgy, to me. I know that my cousin's daughter calls him "Papa Airy" which seems like such a perfect name for some one so special. I think she sounds a little English when she says it, dropping the "H" sound like she does. Our name was always Grampa, and I never really thought of it until I tried to spell it. Grandpa didn't look the way I feel when I speak his name. I wondered what it was for a couple of years but didn't really look into it much. While I was in high school my friend laughed at the way I said his name, "Grand Pa" she enunciated for me. Then it hit me, he was not "Grand Pa', not to me, and not to my brother or sister. He was our Grampa, and Grandma is our Gramma. A little emphasis on that first "a", and there you have it.
I was there for the days before he died, and the visitation was, traditionally, the night before his funeral. In the daytime, before the visitation, my family member gathered all around at Gramma's for closeness and lunch. My cousins, My brother and his wife, and I talked about our memories of Grampa and what a funny and playful guy he always was. We talked about his gentleness that never seemed to leave him, and always lent him patience. He would join us at play, even if it meant setting aside his coffee and paper. We found that he made time to take each of use to work with him more than once, and sometimes especially, just by ourselves. One of my cousins remembers a lakeside picnic lunch break, and another remembers his office as a frequent spot to visit. I remember most the long drive that was canopied by trees, with a cool breeze, the kind that only happens in a well shaded forest. It felt like a fairy tale, a place where dreams could come true. I remember it most as Autumn, but I know we were there while the trees were green as well. I remember many visits to Grampa's work. He was a very important man, it always seemed. He really was, as it turned out, to an entire city of people, but to me he was my Grampa. That was more than anything, it was worth everything.