My Speech from Grandpa’s Funeral
I saw Grandpa Charlie’s senior yearbook from 1949 for the first time this week, and beside his picture, there was a quote that I believe sums up Grandpa: There was a little man, who had a little soul. That little soul told the little man…try, try, try! My grandpa Charlie was an amazing man. He was more ornery than most, but he had a big heart. Life didn’t always come easy to him, but he rolled with the punches. He never quit trying, he never quit pushing on. He took on the responsibility of raising four boys, and I think he did a great job. Although, I’m sure those boys didn’t make it easy on him.
Grandpa loved a woman named Doris. He loved her with all his heart as she did him. My grandma is an incredibly strong woman, even stronger so for putting up with Grandpa. Because we all know at times that was not easy. But together, they made a family and a home. A home filled with many memories and traditions that I hope continue on in his honor.
Grandpa and I were very close. He was my rock and I love him dearly. I was his sweetie, and he made sure to tell me everyday. I think we bonded so well because we are both so ornery, but he would never admit to passing that trait on to me. Like many of the other grandkids, Grandpa Charlie often took me fishing. I recall one specific trip to Diamond Lake in which we decided to have a competition to see who could catch the most fish. After a few hours, our grand totals for the day were one fish for me, zero fish for Grandpa. Secretly, I think he let me win. But it didn’t matter who won or who lost, it was about a grandfather spending time with his granddaughter.
I always had a creative side and grandpa recognized that. He always had scrap pieces of wood that he allowed me to color and paint. He let me sell my lovely creations at his annual garage sale. He even let me keep the money. Him and I shared our creative genes too. Although his “creations” usually were gag gifts to the daughter-in-laws. He always had a joke up his sleeve.
Grandpa loved to teach. Not just me, but everyone. I found his guitar one day, and he picked it up and showed me how to play a few chords. I can still play a “G”. If only I would have taken his offer more seriously. I remember Grandpa letting me garden with him. Teaching me how and when to plant, and how and when the vegetables were ready to pick. He let me make horseradish with him. He always had the best horseradish. I used to sit and play with Maynard and Gia while he worked out in his workshop. I loved going there after school and just spending time with Grandpa and Grandma and listening to their stories.
He wasn’t the only one who had an ornery streak. I remember one day I came home from school and had learned that cigarettes were bad for you. I didn’t want my grandpa’s lungs to turn black so while he was out in his shop, I went inside and hid all of his cigarettes from him. He asked where they were and I told him my reasoning for hiding them. Come to think of it, I’m not sure he ever found them…
Grandpa also loved sports. While he claimed he loved the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cubs. His favorite teams to watch were the ones his grandkids played on. He rarely missed a ballgame. He loved to cheer on his grandkids at their athletic events and he always called after the game to congratulate them and talk about the game. But he didn’t just support his grandchildren, he supported the whole team. I heard a story from a young man this week who wanted to share a memory of Grandpa. This young man used to talk to Grandpa often at Zip’N in Lynnville. He played baseball and after a difficult season, he talked to Grandpa about it. As a graduation gift, Grandpa gave the young man a wooden bat for good luck and told him to keep his head held high. A simple gift. Something that Grandpa didn’t have to do, but that was just the kind of guy he was. He wanted people happy, confident, and with a smile on their face.
I got to sit and talk with my grandpa this past week. Just him and me. Although he struggled to remember things like when I got married, or even my name, he still talked to me like Grandpa Charlie would. I bent down and he wanted to put his arm around me. He told me it relaxed him. Of course, I obliged. I looked Grandpa in the eyes and told him I loved him. And in typical Charlie fashion, he looked back at me and said “Well, I want you to.”
Grandpa may not have known how to make some of his feelings known, it was never a question that he loved us. And I think all he wanted in return was to be loved. And I think it’s pretty obvious that he was loved, more than he probably knew. I’m so honored to have been able to call him my Grandfather. And I’m so glad to see the impact that Grandpa made on many of you. He truly was the most incredible man I have ever known and I’m so blessed to have known him.
Grandpa Charlie was many things. Kind, generous, big-hearted, loving, honest, ornery, hard-headed. He was a teacher. An outdoorsmen. A mentor. A father. A friend. But to me, he always has been, and always will be, my grandpa.
So grandpa, I know you’re looking down right now and I know you’re thinkin’ “Move it along, Brooker” but I want you to know how much I love you. How I look up to you and how I hope to become even half the person you were. I love you. Forever and always. Save me a seat, Grandpa. I hope the fish are biting.
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