I love my grandpa. He was such a rare person. He didn’t need much to make him happy. He fixed everything himself and made things for everyone in the family. I remember when I was little he was so proud of this invention he made to figure out which direction the wind was blowing. He put like two or three of them on his clothesline right away. He was intrigued with the small things and made sure to share those same small joys with us when we were little. He showed me what happens when you put a magnifying glass to the Sunday newspaper in the sunlight. He would let me turn the church organ on in his living room every time we visited even though I didn’t know how to play, I just wanted to hear the different noises that came out in various tones when I changed the instrument styles. Every Halloween my parents would take me trick-or-treating in his neighborhood because it was safer and he would always give me my first two pieces before I embarked on my journey. He kept Mamaro and my aunts Barbies over all the years and recycled them through all the grandchildren. I was so happy every Sunday just playing dress up on the living room floor and he never minded. He just enjoyed a very simple life. He always had a black lab as his chosen pet companion, when one died he went and got another one or someone would get one for him, but always a black lab. He ate soup and sandwiches for lunch everyday and for a snack on the side a slice of bread with butter and jam. If he got really risque he’d bring the cookies out and for those very often rare and special occasions, ice cream would grace our presence.
He spent his whole life working and taking care of his family. Everyone would say he only cared about the money, but I think it was the only way he could show he cared for his family because he always made sure everyone was taken care of and that they understood the true value of money. When grandma died he never dated another woman, maybe he checked out a few women along the 36 year journey alone, but he would never ever be with another woman again. He even died on her birthday, December 29th, which is why I think it was his last romantic gesture. A true symbol of his devotion and even though he probably drove her mad, I’m sure she came to get him and bring him to Heaven with her.
He didn’t always tell us he loved us every time we saw him, but he had small gestures that showed he really cared. When we were cleaning out his house a year ago we found a drawing I did when I was a kid stored in the drawer in the living room. He kept each senior photo of his kids on the living room wall and each of their wedding photos on the hallway walls.
A few years ago we were sitting in the living room of his house. Him in his goldenrod, prickly pear 70’s retro chair. I asked him, “Where’s your favourite place in the world?”
He responded, “Right here.”
I said, “Really?”
To which he replied, “Of course, why else would I stay here this long?”
This conversation alone pretty much sums up the whole life experience I had with my grandpa. I wouldn’t say he was necessarily stubborn, I think he just knew what he liked and what made him happy and it was the simple things that maybe everyone else in the world today seems to be forgetting.
Francis Leary Sr.