There have been events to attend, people to greet, and stories to tell.
Themes have emerged, the finest traits this man possessed: compassion, good humor, intelligence, love of family and friends, and many others.
I only knew this man for ten years. I did not know him as a bright but unengaged student, or as a man who traveled the country working for political campaigns, or a press secretary to powerful men. I didn't know the details of the bills he helped write, or the work he did spreading democracy worldwide, or the classes he taught in his retirement years. I knew him primarily as a father-in-law and grandfather. And I am thankful for those ten years.
He could never stand for someone to be unhappy. If others were putting a person down, he would step up to defend that person. He did this for me once when I was feeling alone and misunderstood. He didn't make a fuss, but in my presence and others', he spoke up for me. One small statement that meant, "I'm with Sarah; if you're against Sarah, you're against me, too." There was more, also, that I didn't know at the time. Emails in which he defended me. He may not have agreed with me 100%, but he was sure going to assume the best about me. I was family.
He did not give limited compliments. If you did something he considered kind or resourceful or admirable, he was unstinting in his praise. You were absolutely the best he'd ever known. Scrambling an egg, oiling a hinge, assembling a piece of furniture--these were absolutely astonishing skills in his mind, and no one else could have done it better.
He loved his grandchildren profoundly. He was devoted to them as babies and would eagerly volunteer to be the walker, until his shirt was soaked with drool and the baby was asleep. Whereas I watched for milestones with some impatience, I believe he witnessed them with some disappointment. Every crawl, climb, or step subtracted a little time from holding and cuddling. Nevertheless, his praise at each milestone was absolute. There was never a baby more amazing, more impressive, more talented!
As he got older and slower, his pace matched my children's so perfectly. They walked to the park at the same speed and got just as excited as each other at the sight of a squirrel or a leaf blower or their shadows. He would sit and read the same books all the other adults had gotten sick of, and he'd feed spoonful after boring spoonful of puree long after I'd moved to serving small chunks of fruits and vegetables. He was more than happy to make sound effects on demand and flip the light switch over and over and over long after everyone else had left the room in annoyance.
This was a good man. We mourn his absence but celebrate his life.
A Fly on our (Chicken Coop) Wall, Amycake and the Dude, Considerings, Finding Ninee, Getting Literal, I Want Backsies, Mother of Imperfection, Rewritten, Thankful Me, The Wakefield Doctrine
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