Yesterday my grandpa died.
He was my stepfather’s stepfather, but I’ve thought of him as my grandpa since I was six. After my parents got divorced my sister and I spent a lot of time with them, Grandma Edie and Grandpa Ray, in their small apartment, playing in an inflatable pool in the tiny backyard. He loved Norte Dame and the Indy 500. He named his cat Rudy and would playfully debate me on whether swimming, my sport in elementary school, was or was not far more dangerous than car racing. He never talked down to me and even though I was probably a pretty annoying, precocious kid, he always made me feel like my opinions were respected. He had a historical anecdote or interesting piece of trivia for every conversation. He loved my grandma well. If my marriage is anything like theirs I’ll have done something good. He was loud and gruff and taught my three-year-old brother curse words while they watched football games. He was passionate and too abrasive when he argued, just like I am. And for my sister and me, when we were between realities, when our family was spread out over the country and we didn’t know where we belonged, he and my grandma took us in. They made us feel welcome and loved. They made us feel like we were their family before we were.
He was the only democrat in our family and the last time I spoke to him, when he was sick and tired and weak, I told him how I was trying to get into campaign organizing and I could hear him perk up. I know he was proud.
I wish I had something more eloquent to say about him other than that he was a good man and that I loved him.