I've been thinking about my Grandfather a lot lately. I don't know why, but I have.
Today would have been his 117th birthday, and I felt like I wanted to sit down and write something about him. So here I am. It's not a sad thing, because even though he's been gone 39 years - I still feel like he's with me every day.
That's the impact he had on my life.
In short, "Pa", as we called him, was the beating heart of our family. The foundation. His quiet and caring way didn't need a lot of words. Matter of fact, he told me he loved me ONCE. That sounds strange by today's standards- but I can assure you, it was something that was always understood, and I never doubted it for a second. French Canadian folks were buttoned up when it came to emotions, and Pa was old school French-Canadian. There was right and there was wrong. There was respect and there was kindness. Always. But showering you or anyone with emotion wasn't something they did. You just KNEW.
He dropped out of school in the 8th grade because, him being the eldest of 11 children- he had to go to work to help feed the family. He never went to high school, and yet he went on to be Mayor of our town, bring the GE Corporation here that provide jobs for much of the town for decades, start the Strafford County Community Action Program (to help the needy), become the NH State Democratic Party Chairman, and befriend United States Presidents, leaders, Congressmen and Senators. He was never boastful about it, either. There were so many things I found out after he died that I wish I could have asked him about, but never got the chance. Such are the mysteries of the humble.
Clearly, I idolized the man.
As a kid, if we went to his house in the morning, he'd pull me up on to his lap while he ate his eggs and bacon (which he had every day...haha), and he'd let me use his toast to sop up the egg yolk. It's no wonder I still do that when I eat eggs to this day. It's one of a million memories that I recall as clearly as if they happened yesterday. There were Sunday get togethers at his house after church, rides to the beach or the country store, or just sitting on the patio listening to the Red Sox on a small transistor radio while he drank his iced black coffee. They are the simplest, and best memories of my life.
But that's not what I've been thinking about lately.
I've been thinking about how much he instilled in me, even if I never realized it at the time. When you're a kid, you never see what's right in front of you because you're always looking at what's down the road. What you're doing to do next, where you're going to go, or who you'll be going to hang out with. I was a typical kid, so I never realized that the greatest resource I would ever have in my life was right in front of me. We had a million conversations about the importance of family, doing the right thing, being honest, helping those in need, and standing up for those who can't. He didn't lecture about it, he just led by example. I listened to it all, without a clue of what it would all mean to me later in life.
I guess the reason I'm writing this is because I'm just wishing I made more of my time with him. That's not regret talking, it's wishful thinking. As many questions as I did ask him through our time together, there are millions left unasked. And as I sit here 39 years after he passed, still thinking about him - I'm not sad. I'm simply filled with gratitude for every moment I had with him. His quiet lessons have guided me through every major decision I've ever made.
I was the luckiest kid on earth, but like all kids- I was too young to know it.
But I can assure you, I know it now.
*The first pic was taken when I was 3.
*The second is one I took of him in his kitchen, in his favorite chair.