Four days after the passing of my paternal grandmother (Grandma Brock), my maternal grandfather (Grandpa Herzog), and last living grandparent, passed away. His death was much more sudden and unexpected. He was 93 years old, and while he had been declining in health as the aged do, he took a significant turn for the worse only about three weeks before his passing.
Grandpa Herzog lived about five miles up the road from me in Canyon Rim. His wife, my grandma, died when I was nine, and after that he faded into the background of my extended family . . . always there as we played the old player piano in the basement, or climbed the apple tree in the back yard, or swung on his old, metal swing set, about twelve feet tall, daring each other to swing high enough to touch the electric wires that strung across the yard. He was there, but never a part of the fun and folly of the children.
The stories were wonderful to hear of him – how he bought his first car, without his parents knowledge, while he was still in junior high. How he always thought driver’s licenses were optional. Stories of falling asleep at the wheel, and cheating at cards, and turning a blind eye to the mischief of his children. Stories of his integrity and reputation in the community, and his great love of baseball.
I felt a pang of sorrow as I listened to all the funny stories – of course a Herzog funeral is full of laughter – that I missed knowing this man on any real level.
And at the same moment, it made me grateful, as it always does, that I come from a strong family, a family where there was and is a lot of love. It’s like a blanket, quilted by hand, warm and safe.
Wyatt asked me how I felt with the passing of Grandpa Herzog. The feeling was hard to describe. It was the feeling of closing a book, one of your favorites. It is so satisfying to have it be a part of you, at the same time there’s a sigh as you know it’s over. I will miss him.