Today is my Grandpa George's birthday. He was 95 years old when he left us in 1992, so today he would have been 111.
He was my Grandmother's 3rd husband, but really the only Grandfather I had on that side of the family. And frankly, while I loved my Grandpa Miller... He and Grandma didn't really like little kids, particularly when they first became grandparents... and I was their first grandchild.
George on the other hand? Well, he never had any children of his own. But when he married Nanny, he got all of us. Six stepdaughters and 28 grandchildren. Now, some of my older cousins remember my "real" grandfather. He died when my Mom was 15. So George? He was my Grandpa.
He picked me up from ballet lessons. He came to my band and choir concerts, all my performances. My graduations... He was too frail for my wedding.
When my brother was sick.. he would watch us kids while Gram and Mom were at the hospital. When my Mom needed to put weight on my brother, George would go out and find him his favorite thing. Candy Corn. Even if it was in the middle of a blizzard, "Ceil," he would say to my Grandmother, "The boy needs candy corn".
When my brother died, George was stoic. He had lost so many people he loved. It hurt him, you could tell... but he was there for Gram.
All of this is the amazing legacy of this man who took us all on. But the thing is that none of it should have ever happened. See, George was a veteran of The Great War. He was a boy of 17 sent to France to fight. He escaped the Influenza Pandemic to be blown up in a trench and have his lungs nearly burned out with mustard gas. When they sent him home? It was to die. But he didn't die. He went on to live a long, productive life. He was largely deaf from the war, and suffered health effects the rest of his life. But he was important to me. And I will miss him forever.
Happy Birthday Grandpa! I love you!