Remembering My Grandfather

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My maternal grandfather passed away tonight. He had just turned 85. After the untimely deaths of my other grandparents, this means that my parents and their siblings are now the oldest generation. I want to remember my grandfather here and reflect on what he taught me.

Growing up, my grandmother and grandfather were a focal point; they provided lots of support and watched my brother and me. They were a ‘salt-of-the-earth’-type of couple, unassuming and humble, but also fiercely proud and persistent in life. Despite having received no higher education (since such endeavours were too costly back then), they took a great interest in the schooling of my brother and me. I also vividly recall how happy our respective life choices made them at all times. My brother just becoming a dad provided loads of joy. I am glad that the youngest and oldest generation could meet before the passing.

My grandfather was very talented. He taught himself how to draw and how to sketch, and he even designed parts of our house. He even was able to work as a blacksmith—potentially a consequence of being a metal worker at the start of his career. He could create anything he was able to imagine. At the same time, he also lived a rich life of the mind. My grandfather would read complex history books and to this day, I owe my love of reading to him. He read to me when I was a small child for hours at a time.

After the untimely passing of my grandmother in 2011, his world was gradually getting smaller, mostly because he was also a headstrong, tenacious man who was used to getting his own will. With my grandma gone, he did not take advice from other people, and started to pick fights with his family left and right. I think it was in some sense a way to punish himself for his loss, giving him an outlet, but now I will never be sure. Like many families, we did not discuss these, or any other ‘heady’ topics with him, mostly because we just had no clue how to broach such a subject.

Nevertheless, we continued seeing him and talking to him, sometimes reminiscing about my grandmother, other times just discussing life. I learned a lot from him, since I also saw a lot of my own flaws as a reflection in his flaws. Despite being sometimes brusque, he also brought light into this world. Maybe more than he himself wanted to believe.

His memory will be a blessing and beauty will prevail. I have not a clue how to properly remember him and others, but I do believe that their names should still be spoken:

Every man has two deaths, when he is buried in the ground and the last time someone says his name.

It is probably silly, but I am using X-Clacks-Overhead on my server to remember the ones that have passed on. Sometimes, when I feel their loss particularly hard, I remember that at least their name is being spoken, and I draw some comfort from this.

Until we meet again, grandpa.