When you make it to 38 years old with all of your genetically related grandparents still living, you begin to think that maybe they are going get the better of this death thing after all. But as was stated at a funeral I recently attended, death is coming for us all. Whether or not we want to admit it, and no matter how uncomfortable it is to talk about or think about, we are all going to end up there. Yesterday, after 92 years of living, death came for my grandpa, George "Ray" Hudson.
The child in me remembers my grandpa as the guy who rolled around on the floor and played horsey with the grandkids. He shucked endless ears of corn with us for family reunions, kicked the ball around the yard with us and taught us to draw (unfortunately, I never caught on despite the fact he was a talented artist). He took us to big buildings where we sat in big chairs and he taught us about politician-y things. He sent us to bed when it was time for the adults to have a beverage and talk about adult things. Many hours were spent whispering in rooms of that house in Hinsdale while the adults downstairs solved the world's problems.
The teenager in me remembers a generous man who had many opinions, many friends and was very active. He willingly went to dinner theaters and countless musicals when I went to visit. He loved to talk to people and always had a smile and a kind word for anyone he met. He went out for a daily walk and had a nightly drink. His driving was scary as hell and the late night lectures from he and my grandma regarding proper dating behavior were exasperating and out-dated. Dinner conversation had to include current events and the latest political developments and the nights often ended with a viewing of one of the many old movies out of the video collection.
The adult in me remembers my grandpa as a passionate politician (a little too conservative for my taste, but passionate nonetheless), a devoted Christian, a loving family man and a caring husband. As time claimed many of his physical abilities and most of his mind, he retained two things...his love for his wife and his sense of humor. He always knew where my grandma was sitting and never failed to recognize her voice, even when I don't think he knew who anyone else was, he knew my grandma. During my last visit there, we were talking about the ability to catnap. My dad mentioned that my grandpa was always able to catch some zzzzzzzzz's no matter where he was. A couple of minutes later, I looked over at my grandpa who was breathing heavily and unevenly (not a comforting thing to see). When I asked if he he was OK, he informed me he was trying to fake snore so he could pretend he was taking a catnap. He said he obviously needed some more practice.
My grandpa was guided by a very strong sense of right and wrong. I am betting that he, like everyone else I know, wished for a couple of "do-overs". But I think any of the decisions he made that may not have turned out the way he had hoped were a result of doing what he thought was right using the information he had at the time. What more can you ask for from a person, really?
My grandpa loved to sing- I can't hear Edelweiss without hearing his voice in my mind. He didn't like people going without shoes and more than once reprimanded me for being barefoot. He loved to take pictures and filled countless albums with pictures of he and my grandmas vacations. It would have been helpful if digital cameras came about a bit sooner...no offense, Grandpa, but I don't think we will keep ALL of the sheep, cow and countryside pictures.
A speaker at the same recently attended funeral talked about "home"- that place that stirs that feeling in your heart when your eyes light on it after being away. I get that feeling when I cross over the Mississippi River bridge and head toward the Memphis skyline. I don't know the physical place that gave my grandpa that feeling. I never asked. But I know he had that feeling yesterday when he laid his eyes on heaven. Rest in peace, Grandpa. I know that the angels were there to welcome you home.