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My grandfather is on his deathbed in California; and as I think about his life, it's impossible for me not to see in his death the passing of an age.

He was born in 1906 in Connecticut on a dairy farm, before there were many automobiles, before there were airplanes. He was born in the year that Teddy Roosevelt signed acts to regulate food and drugs and the inspection of meat. He lived through the First World War. His grandmother died in the great flu epidemic of 1918.

He went to school, and high school, which he never finished. He became a tradesman, sharpening knives for a living. He was good at what he did. He worked and saved and opened his own knife-sharpening business. He married. He had children. He supported his family. He voted. He was like one of the guys in those Norman Rockwell paintings. He always had blue-collar tastes; he was never ashamed of his origins.

Later, his wife died. He married again, to my gradmother. They moved to California, and had a wide circle of friends. They traveled. He volunteered for the Optimist club, from the time that they moved to California until now. He almost never missed a meeting. He and my grandmother cultivated and took pride in their extended family. My grandfather never distinguished between his blood relations and her grandchildren--he was proud of both.

Although my grandmother died in the 1990s, my grandfather continued to live on his own and to be as sharp as a tack. He was fiercely independent. He had pulled himself up by his own bootstraps but continued to contribute to society. When I last visited him two years ago he was still thinking about his role as a citizen--complaining about Bush and the war in Iraq. I wanted to order him one of those White House letters for when he turned 100--but am not sure whether, with Bush's signature, it would have been much of a present.

What kind of men are we making today, in this age of corruption? I'm pretty sure they will not be men like my grandfather.

Originally posted to ChuyHChrist on Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 04:10 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry about your grandfather's illness (14+ / 0-)

    But I'm happy he had such a great life.  I hope I do as well!   Looks like he's got a great grandkid too!

  •  I know: the age of civic minded-ness is over. (11+ / 0-)

    My rule used to be:  as long as you are registered to vote and do vote, you are a-okay with me. More than okay with me.  Today? don't vote or vote republican?  Then you don't deserve the American bounty -- since you're working to decimate such bounty.

    But back when, just voting was a minimum of what you did and what you thought about.  Today..... well, I think America is going to learn a lot about the cost for tuning out.  A very hard lesson to learn.

    May your grandfather be as well as possible!  (Hey, go visit him! this week!!)

    LetsFight. re handle: Fight the radical right is the sentiment!

    by letsfight on Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 04:17:19 PM PDT

  •  May he pass with dignity and grace (12+ / 0-)

    As he lived his life. And his legacy will live on in his grandchildren and all the descendants to come.

    Stay strong.

    "The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807.

    by PatsBard on Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 04:19:06 PM PDT

  •  We're all dying, but... (10+ / 0-)

    ...I hope that when my time comes, soon or ... less ... soon, I'll be thinking of those who have gone before like your grandfather and still making my moments count until I sleep, sleep so deeply.

    Your grandfather won't leave you, you know.  You can count on him when your reserves are low and your doubts are high.  That is his true gift to you -- and yours to him.  Strength lasts longer than our short lives, and travels from one to another like a song.


    "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

    by KateCrashes on Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 04:24:58 PM PDT

  •  My grandfather (7+ / 0-)

    died almost exactly a year ago, he was on his deathbed for a few weeks, so I can understand where you're coming from.  I hope you are at peace with your grandfather's passing.

    I feel a similar way, my grandfather served in the US Army in WWII, was a responsible and good-hearted guy, etc.  The thing is that he always voted Rebublican, which isn't too strange because as we all know, the Republican party during the 40's is nothing like the GOP today.  I think the party changed so slowly, and he started paying attention to the news less and less, that he didn't see it coming.  He did vote for Gore in 2000, which was one of his first votes for a Democrat, but in his mind it's the Republicans that tend to be the resonsible hard-workers improving America.  How things have changed.

    Get your Free Mac Mini, you know you want one.

    by Bush B Gone on Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 04:25:19 PM PDT

  •  What a wonderful tribute! (7+ / 0-)

    You have my sympathy on your grandfather's illness.  He sounds like a wonderful man, and from the sound of your post, it sounds like his values were passed on to you.  My mother was born just a few years after your grandfather and died about two years ago.  When she was in her late 80's, I took her back to Illinois for the last time to see her brothers and sisters, most of whom are also now gone.  She couldn't resist pointing out the ailerons to the flight attendant, and explaining how she had inspected ailerons and rudders on Navy fighter planes being manufactured in Baltimore during World War II while her husband had been in the service.  The flight attendant seemed astounded that this little white-haired lady had ever been anything other than a housewife.  You're right -- the generation whose last members are now passing away was a unique, and we're all in their debt.

  •  It is so hard to loose these great men (7+ / 0-)

    I honor the memories of the wonderful men and women who helped to raise me - and despite how the Republicans made fun of Hillary - the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child is absolutely right. In their honor, I am doing all I can to raise young men and women who understand their responsibilities as citizens of this country and of the world. I do worry, as you do, that this culture does not always see the importance of anything past the latest reality TV show.

  •  Almost a hundred years old, wow! (6+ / 0-)

    My grandad was born in '09 and died a few years ago. I'm sorry for your loss. It is absolutely incredible what Americans born in the beginning of this century have experienced. I mean just that "incredible". It's almost impossible to believe that life could change so much.

    The wounds to society - civic life - have been deep but I think we are trying to put it back together. Neither of our grandads, I suspect, could get their minds around the Internet, but I think we are trying to re-introduce here, in our modest way, what they created - the civic life of the United States of America.

  •  I am sorry for your impending loss (5+ / 0-)

    Your grandfather sounds much like one of my grandfathers, a straightforward working man who did his best for his entire life.

    I sense that you may also be thinking that the times that be a'coming might be hard on him. Yes, he lived through many desperate moments in our history. But now, between our new war on old people and all of our excursions outside our border, well, perhaps it would be unbearable for someone born toward the beginning of the last century to have to endure what we may.

    My father died seven years ago, an historian, a democrat, a liberal, and a pragmatist. He has been gone long enough that my sister and I can laugh (in a black sense) that it is good he died then, because this administration would kill him.

    I hope that you can see your grandfather again before he goes, if you want. If not, I think that you have done a great start in the process of losing him by memorializing him here.

    Hugs to you and your extended family.

  •  God bless your grand pa. (6+ / 0-)

    What a wonderful legacy.  I remember my great grand ma, who lived to be nearly 100, (she was born in slavery and didn't know exactly her age) would often pine that she was the only one left, meaning the only one of her siblings and friends.  

    But when we'd ask if she was ready to meet her Maker she was very negative on that.  I often think of and miss the Darling.  And should anyone wonder, I'm not ready yet to join her either.  How we cling to this side!

  •  May your grandfather find peace (4+ / 0-)

    What a model for all of us to try to follow; do a job, do it well, care for your family, have an active civic life...

    Wow, it's hard to imagine the changes that he must have seen during his long life. That's one of the strange things about progress, sometimes it seems as if change is so slow in the coming, but then you think about everything he must have experianced during the past 100 years... it's just amazing.

    "People got used to being Domesticated Animals"

    by nNYKeith on Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 05:55:48 PM PDT

  •  My (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sj, kraant

    Grandfather was born in Gainesville Georgia as the son of a Church of God preacher. My Grandfather today, is one of the most liberal people I knwo. Despite his father having been ultra-pro Goldwater. Anti Democrat, and despite Growing up in Central Georgia during the 50s. He didn't approve of the way Carter handled the country, but didn't like Regan at all. So he didn't vote in 80, or 84.  He is also the last of an age. He got married at the age of 16 to a 15 year old high school friend, and had my mother when he was 19. Today, he is not quite 60 yet, still likes to joke that he was born on Hitler's birthday, and Constantly complains about how bush runs this country. He is an accomplished and skilled writer, and he spent thirty years in Radio before being published. In doing so he got the traitor Rodney Alexander elected in 2002, by running a news program in the District most populous county, Rapides, which contains the twin-cities of Pineville and Alexandria. The other nut Cooksey, retired to Run against  Landrieu in 2002, he failed to make the run off. Landrieu surprised everyone when she won in the December Run off. By then everyone had seen the Republican Wave strike the south, and no one gave her much of a chance.Anyway, Rodney won the district because he got a 2100 vote margin in Rapides Parish. The last time it was open, Cooksey got a 2000 vote margin there. My grandfather released on the radio the story of how one of the republican candidates, a justice of the piece, had exposed himself too a pair of nine year old girls when they caught urinating in public. He also released the CAFTA bomb late in the election, which pushed Landrieu over the top by outraging the normally conservative Central Louisiana Sugar farmers, (the southern ones are already liberal). Hitch-Terrell couldn't do anything about and lost. We democrats have a lot to thank him for down here in Louisiana. I have encouraged him to run against Boustany. He is the kind of person to get people to vote for just by liking him. He has a lot of appeal with Conservatives. In Rapides Parish the Station owner was an Ultra-conservative, yet let him run a Democratic News Program. He still likes to argue with his dad, who hosts a Sunday Radio Sermon in Birmingham Alabama, and turns 80 in a few months. If he does run for U.S. Representative, I will bet on him winning in an upstart campaign. He, as a newcaster took on Democrats as well. In a huge upset, he helped a liberal Republican take down a conservative Democrat who had been mayor of Pineville for 26 consecutive years. He exposed his corruptness. For instence, they spent three million dollars on an acre of side walk. My Grandfather joked, they would have to be paved with gold, and move like an escalator to fairly cost that much. From then on, a black member of the city council, would say, "Movin sidewalks." Whenever he ran into my grandfather. My grandfather is a genus, and he has a theory that no one tries. It is, You only win if you make angry, or you make em laugh. I can't imagine the day I'm at his deathbed, and am extremely sorry for your loss. all we can do at this time is pray. Any one in Dialy Kos who lives in Rodney Alexanders district, should run against him. It only costs like ten dollars to file in Louisiana.

  •  Sorry about your grandpa (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kraant, ChuyHChrist

    but what a life to celebrate.  I'm always amazed at the changes someone his age saw.  And, it's hard to argue against his being The Greatest Generation.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

    by TracieLynn on Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 07:24:07 PM PDT

  •  I'm sorry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kraant, ChuyHChrist

    This diary really hits home.

    My dad is 85, failing and much like the man you describe. He's strong, independent, loyal, kindhearted, and a WWII vet. He loathes this administration as much as anyone else.  We'll not see their kind pass this way again in the near future. Maybe someday, but I just don't know.

    Take care of yourself and your family.

  •  Your sharing of his life (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and character is a fine tribute.  As for the type of men we're making today - if he has instilled his dignity and beliefs in you and the rest of his younger family members, I'd say we're doing just fine.

    (-6.75, -6.24) George W. Bush deserves a fair trial.

    by CJB on Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 07:46:12 PM PDT

  •  Hey, I watched a FANTASTIC (0+ / 0-)

    documentary on HBO last night.  Called: A Century of Living.  You should watch for it.

    They have about 8 people who were born in or before 1900, and they just talk about what they 'remember' going through the past century in terms of family roles, ww1, ww2, the depression.

    I thought of this diary as I watched it.

    LetsFight. re handle: Fight the radical right is the sentiment!

    by letsfight on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 09:16:49 AM PDT

  •  Condolences on your grandfather (0+ / 0-)

    hope his passage from this life is peaceful.

    I have a grandmother who turns 100 this upcoming Independence Day, and I just want to say that everything you said strikes home.  

    And yes, I don't think that we'll see Americans like our grandparents again.  My grandmother had an 8th-grade education, about which she is abashed, yet she is bilingual and more literate than some college students I've known.  She's worked hard, raised a family, and weathered all kinds of events, including thelast big plutocratic chapter in our national life.

    Maybe if we last long enough, we'll come to regard the current plutocracy as a momentary aberration in the arc of a long national life.

    Also debating about the presidential letter.  At her age, rather than have W mark my century day, I'd almost rather have someone stick a fork in me.

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