Happy Birthday, Grandpa.


My Grandpa was a tremendous guy. He died in 2003, and I still miss him quite a bit. A skillful orthopaedic surgeon, he was always tinkering, and using his hands to deftly explain a mechanical or organic process, complete with sound effects. He was an atheist who loved deeply,  and had a no-bullshit enthusiasm that was really memorable.  He always threw the very best parties. Well before my time, he was entertaining the neighborhood with classy parties that might involve a parachute hung up in the tree to cast colored light over the backyard, or hosting private dinners at his restaurant, which was supposedly one of the first fine dining restaurants in western Michigan.  I do remember his retirement party, renting out a minor league baseball stadium and inviting hundreds and hundreds of friends to come eat, drink and play a casual game of catch.

But beyond all the impressive things about him, it was the nature of his character that has stuck with me. He wasn’t the most huggable grandpa one could have. He had a temper- and took offense to offensive things. He smoked, and swore and even showed disappointment with half-assery.  But he was truly genuine. He had initiative and knew a good idea when he saw it. He retrofitted a pair of golf carts with dump-truck backs, and used them like workhorses to haul brush, or carry a load of kids with towels to the pond. He researched new technology and read a lot,  and was willing to change his mind if it was warranted. I think I was lucky enough to inherit some of his qualities, including a full head of hair, and I’m pretty sure I take after him with his impatience for small talk.  I still look up to him very much, for the course he charted, the family he raised, and the life he lead.

He would be 88 years old today. We miss you, Grandpa!