My maternal grandfather was born. Wow, I can't imagine all the changes my grandfather has been through. He is an amazing man and I am lucky to have him in my life. It is funny to think about now, but as a child I was sort of scared of him. He worked a lot in his garage on all sorts of wood working things and my step-grandmother (my mom's mom died when I was very young so I don't remember her and my granddad remarried a couple years later) never let me go out there while he was working. Granddad Clifford was a quite man who could do anything in my childhood mind, but he was larger than life so I felt in awe of him, but not close to him.
When my step-grandmother Mary was sick with osteoporosis and cancer, I saw my grandfather as someone with more patience than anyone I had ever met. He was tireless and tender. Most men, especially of his generation, are not good care-givers, but he seemed to fall into that role with ease. I'd seen him fix things for neighbors and people from his church and do just about anything anyone asked of him, but caring for Mary was hard and 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It didn't ever get easier, but always harder. In the end, I think her last days were the first and only time I've seen him really cry. She was not herself at the end and said some terrible mean things, but he was a rock.
After my step-grandmother died and I was still in my teens, my mother and I would visit him pretty regularly and I got to know him as a funny sweet man with lots of jokes and stories. His signature joke, "Hi, my name is Cliff, drop over sometime." always makes me smile. He was always a hard worker and I rarely heard him complain. He always seemed to take people where they were in life. He never seemed judgemental to me. He was as strong as anyone I've ever known and moved heavy furniture by himself into his basement without so much as a whimper.
My grandfather probably thinks we are crazy for being vegan. He was a farmer with livestock and then a butcher while my mom was growing up. He was an avid fisherman until after Mary died. Yet, he has always eaten our food and never once complained or acted like it was odd. He even commented at our wedding how wonderful the food (vegan) was.
While my mom was dying of cancer, Granddad came and sat all day in the hospital with her and drove a couple hours home and then would come back the next day. He was volunteer of the year several times at the hospital near him and would help "elderly" people who were often times younger than him.
Granddad is great with my kids and they adore him. They love to talk with him and sit on his lap. Sometimes I wish he wasn't so quiet. I wish I knew more of his thoughts and what he feels, but he is who he is and I love him. I am so glad I've had him here for so long and the world will not be the same place when he is gone.