That's not what the Death card means

As promised
written 2009-05-26 01:47:57

Okay, I need about four or five posts to catch up on things I've said or wanted to get posted to this page. I'll start with the hard one.

My grandfather was my grandmother's second husband. He was not related by blood to me. I didn't know this fact for about half of my life, the formative half. So it's really not essential.

My grandfather was a sailor, and it is from him and my grandmother that I get my periodic desire to get the hell off land once in a while. He and I sailed his sloop from Maryland to New Jersey via the Intercoastal Waterway when I was young. It was great - my grandmom drove their car from marina to marina while we sailed, staying in a different place each night and seeing lots of the Atlantic coast and interior bodies of water.

He was a veteran of World War II and a Seabee. A Seabee is a sailor of the Navy's Construction Battalion, the guys who make beach landings possible. They were surveyors, construction workers, manual laborers. The motto of the Seabees is "Can Do" and my grandfather exemplified that motto. While perhaps not meeting certain modern safety standards (he once insulated the electrical wiring of our home with newspaper), he was amazingly capable and effective.

He was well-read. My first exposure to the Britannica was at his home, and it was a for-real Britannica - two complete volumes, one of brief articles and one of in-depth treatises. He helped me get interested in mythology with books and particularly with a National Geographic fold-out map of ancient and legendary Greece. He could accurately recite poetry which he had been obliged to learn in grade school, some forty years on.

He was not well in his advanced age. My grandmother predeceased him by some fifteen years, and in that time he lost some of his faculties. I prefer to remember him fixing truck engines by beating the hell out of them with a wrench, and I will do so. (True story. Ask me about it some time.)

We'll memorialize him on Saturday, and sometime soon after I'll start a project that will require me to work on things with my hands, something I'm not naturally good at. But I'm going to do it, and I'm going to finish it, and I'm going to think of my grandfather, who would have done it better, and probably in a way that no one would have necessarily thought of.

--1:39 AM, EDT, Hatboro, PA, by the shores of Gitche Gumee, on the shining Big Sea Water

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