Grandpa

One of the things that has been occupying my time the last couple weeks was my grandfather’s funeral, which was last Tuesday.  We drove out to California, visited family and got preparations ready, had a rosary (I’m a recovering Catholic) and then the funeral the next day.  I wrote a thing for the funeral, and made a video tribute with pictures and music and I was asked to do a reading.  Though I don’t consider myself to be a Christian (I don’t consider myself to be anything, really — at least, nothing that has a name), I agreed to do the reading for a couple reasons: 1) it would help my Dad out with one less thing to stress out about, 2) it is part of where I come from, 3) it would mean something to Grandma and probably some other folks there, 4) it was a non-offensive piece about conquering death from Paul to the Corinthians.

Since it is, technically, something I wrote in the last week, and since there might be a couple people who read this blog who’d like a second (or first) look at what I said about my grandpa, here’s my…whatever-you-want-to-call-it.  I maintain that my dad’s was better, but I’m not going to publish that without his permission, but if you want to know a tiny bit about my grandfather, you can read his obituary here.

Grandma loves to tell everyone who will listen about how she and grandpa raised me when I was a kid.  My dad was working, so a lot of my days & summers were spent with my grandparents.  A lot of those things a boy sometimes learns from his dad, I learned from my grandfather.

Grandpa taught me how to hold a hammer.  And how to try not to hammer your thumb.

Grandpa taught me how to fix a car.  Or at least, open the hood and look like you know what you’re doing.

Grandpa taught me, when the TV goes out, how and where to hit it just right so the picture flickers back on.

Grandpa taught me how to bet on the horsies.  Probably the less said on that, the better.

Grandpa taught me all sorts of things about planning ambitious projects that would probably never happen.

Grandpa taught me how to make stuff.  I doubt anything I made was particularly good, but I think it was the experience of making and learning that you could go from an idea to a physical product that stuck with me.

The thing I remember most, though –the thing that I’m sure will come up most frequently as we share our memories of Eugene Reynolds—was his sense of humor.  He was always joking and laughing.  His grin and his cackle are firmly embedded in my mind and are how I’ll remember him now that he’s gone.

Grandpa loved his great-grandkids.  Even though we could only make it out maybe a couple times a year, and when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, he might not know where he was, or what day it was or even who he was talking to, exactly, but he always remembered his great-grandchildren Gavin and Lilah and I like to think that the pictures of the kids we sent him every year brought him a little bit of joy and pride.

I’d like to end by sharing a memory of him with our kids from a couple Christmases ago.  Gavin got these electric drum sticks for Christmas that lit up and played a synthesized drum noise when you snapped it in the air like you were hitting a snare drum.  Grandpa was fascinated by them.  I remember grandma telling me he played the drums, so maybe it was that, or maybe it was the new-fangled technology or maybe it was just the flashing lights, but somehow he wound up with one of the drum sticks and Gavin had the other, and they were both making a racket, and I’m honestly not sure who was having more fun.  At some point it devolved into playing swords with the drumsticks and I wasn’t sure whether to be concerned that Gavin might hurt Grandpa or that Grandpa might hurt Gavin.  I think, in the end, we had to pry the drumsticks away from both of them so we could put them away when it was time to go.

Working at the Mint, Grandpa collected coins.  We’ll be taking those coins back to Utah with us and, as I was telling Gavin and Lilah about great-grandpa’s coin collection, Gavin got really excited.  I sort of lost interest in the coin collection sometime after I moved with my parents to Millbrae, but seeing Gavin’s eyes light up makes me look forward to passing on some pieces of grandpa and sharing some of those things that he taught me with my kids.