Two weeks ago I got the call I knew was soon coming. My grandpa had been in poor health for a while and his body had finally given out. The next few days felt like a blur. I think grief and an impromptu road trip with a cranky baby will do that to a person. It wasn’t until I was sitting quietly listening to others eulogize my grandpa that I realized I had something to say too. But by that time it felt too late. And it haunted me for days. Because I desperately wanted to let everyone know what he meant to me. Finally, after we were back home and the haze lifted, I got to let those words come. I’d like to share them with you:
I didn’t know I wanted so desperately to say something meaningful about my grandpa until it was too late to let the words form in my brain. So I let the moment the pass. But barely an hour has gone by since then that I haven’t thought about what I would have said to that room of people.
Would I have mentioned how he proudly fought for his country in Korea? Because he did. And he was such a patriotic man. He loved this country without shame.
Would I have mentioned how he loved and stayed true to one woman his whole life? Because he did. It seemed like he had his own special way of showing it, but the love was undeniable. My grandpa loved his wife with all his heart.
Would I have mentioned the six children he fathered? Five of them he lovingly raised, and one that I know was waiting to see him again when he passed on from this world. He wasn’t my dad, but I know he was a great one. Your kids don’t love you the way his did if you were anything less than great.
Would I have mentioned what a hard worker he was? Providing for his family and dedicating himself to one company for decades.
To tell you the truth, that seems to be all I know about my grandpa. I don’t have a laundry list of achievements to throw at you. He wasn’t that kind of man. He lived a quiet life. Somehow with this long legs and big hands he managed to remain a loving but unassuming presence. There was no pretense with my grandpa. He was who he was and that was enough. The life he lived made him happy. And that gives me more comfort than anything else. Because even though the list of things I can tell you about him is short, they are what made him Fred Clay. A son, brother, husband, father, grandpa, and great-grandpa. He was a good man with a loving heart. To me, that’s what made him great.
My grandpa really was a good man. A little bit mischievous, but always loving. He is greatly missed.