He was 92 when he passed away.
It all started April 29th, 1924 in Nunica, Michigan, when my grandfather was born, beginning a century of steadiness, laughter, and making things from hand. Ed served in World War II, began his own building business, and then met my grandmother, a journalist named Elaine. They married in 1952, a moment bringing life to our family as we know it today.
Together they yielded twenty four new lives, one of them my own, and remained rooted in the home he built when my mother was two. I knew the stories about the magnificent tree in the backyard struck by lightning, the garden by the front door where the family dog was buried, the days on Lake Michigan through the connecting channel right behind the house.
I remember eating blueberries from crates in the garage, waking up to the crackle of bacon, carving our names in the birch trees outside + smelling the nostalgia in the air.
On Sunday February 26, 2017 my grandfather’s life ended + we came from all ends of the country to hold those memories close.
My grandparents had relocated to a retirement home where we all met up for the memorial service. It was a gloomy winter day, snow slowly falling in silent flakes. Friends + family trickled in from the cold, looked through photo albums + ate celebratory cake.
Our lives are all so different + spread out from coast to coast, but we share the common thread that we’ve all come from Grandpa. We’ve started our own businesses + made our own homes + created our own families. Yet those summer days at our grandparents’ house are so paralleled + eternal.
The memories were what brought joy to that day. Crowding around photo albums, everyone looked eagerly through Grandpa’s full life, captured in those sepia tone prints.
The little things people loved + remembered about him most were what we displayed to honor all that he was.
Once the service had ended, we were left with going through his belongings in the apartment; the final step in putting his life to rest.
We ran back + forth to the grocery store next door, picking up old cardboard boxes for transporting his belongings. But the tiniest things were really the most important; the watch he wore every day, his collection of dollar coins.
Everything was washed white, at the end of the day, ready for a new story to move in. We each picked our favorites from his tiny, important things. Mine were his Alaska pin, a pendant with his initials, and his clock – reminding me of my century ticking down + all the life I want to give.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald