My last living grandparent died yesterday. My grandfather, or Grandaddy Bill, was just two days shy of his 98th birthday. He was a dear man, and we will all miss him.
I’ve written about him here a couple of times before, most notably when we moved him from his hometown of Vicksburg, MS, to Nashville, TN, to be closer to us. He lived here for about three-and-a-half years, and we saw him regularly.
Here’s a photo of a recent lunch we spent with him at the nursing home:
My grandfather was always a very dignified man. He was sturdy, stalwart. He could get things done. He was reliable, calm, intelligent. He was the kind of person you trusted because he had always demonstrated trustworthiness.
These last few years, he began to shrink as his body aged. His voice was not as steady. His memory remained good for a long time, but over the last few months, he began to get confused. We all told ourselves that it was not unusual for a man his age to be in such a state. And it wasn’t.
And so, yesterday, he came to the end of his long, good life. We will miss him, but I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to have him in my life for so long. He knew both of his great grandsons–saw them regularly, in fact. And I am also grateful for that.
There’s a lot more I could tell you about Grandaddy Bill. How he was in the Army Corps of Engineers, how he served during two wars, how he was a huge railroad buff, how he read archaeology magazines, thick biographies and weighty nonfiction books up until about a year ago. I could tell you about how he was married to my grandmother for 67 years.
But the important thing is that he loved us. And we loved him. And we are better people –luckier people–for that.