Today would have been my Grandpa Chet’s 85th birthday. He’s been gone for 22 years now, yet sadness still seems to wash over me when I think about him. I was young when he passed, but I remember loving every minute I got to spend with him.
The song “Almost Paradise” from Footloose always reminds me of Grandpa. He once told my mom that it was the only “rock” song he ever liked! As I was listening to music during my long commute this morning, “Almost Paradise” came around on the iPod. I immediately remembered that today was Grandpa’s birthday, and wanted to spend some time remembering him...
- I remember spending the night with Grandma Alice and Grandpa Chet. They had a huge bed! My parents only had a double bed, so it was a special treat to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa and get to sleep in the “Super Bed!” I think it was a king bed…it felt like it took up the entire room! I remember what the house smelled like as we got up in the morning and started getting ready. It was the perfect combination of a fresh shower, toothpaste and brewing coffee. Their house was right near a Dunkin Donuts, and I remember Grandpa bringing home blueberry cake donuts for us.
- I remember watching game shows like The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune with my Grandparents. I seem to remember Grandpa especially liking Wheel of Fortune…I think he had a thing for Vanna White!
- Grandma and Grandpa used to have these chairs at their dining room table that were brown leather, no armrests, and they SPUN! I would love sitting in those chairs, and having Grandpa spin me around and around and around!
- I think Grandpa really loved sweets, because he was always spoiling us with cookies and candy! Those Keebler fudge covered cookies always remind me of him.
- Grandpa was a car salesman – Oldsmobiles for as long as I could remember, although I’m sure he sold others earlier in his life. I remember visiting his dealership, and getting Chicklets out of the gum machine!
- Grandpa ALWAYS had a camera! I remember him with his camcorder and Polaroid. We loved that Polaroid – we couldn’t wait to shake those pictures! He must have loved his family so much to want to capture us all on film all the time.
- I remember going shopping with him one day. I think we were at the mall, because I remember the store we were in as a department store. I found a sweater that I really liked, and he bought it for me. I was in 1st grade when he died, and I kept that sweater until I was at least in 5th grade. I couldn’t bear to get rid of it. He was such a generous man.
- I remember the day that he died. I was home with Dad, and Kelly and Robert (who were 4 and 1) were playing in Robert's playpen. I answered the phone when it rang, and sensed immediately that something was wrong. Mom was on the other end of the line asking for Dad. I remember refusing to let her talk to him until she told me what was wrong. I cried and cried when she finally told me, and I remember feeling upset with Kelly because she didn't seem to notice that I was crying.
We all miss Grandpa. We talk about him often at family gatherings. There is a portrait of him in my Grandma’s house that looks over us all as we celebrate Christmas and birthdays. He has been gone for a long time, and I am sad that so many of my younger cousins never got to be with him. It occurs to me now, though, that Grandpa still lives on with us…through us. My mother has his jubilant spirit and dedicated work ethic. My aunts Gwen and Gayle have his generosity. My uncle Dan has his quick, infectious smile, and my aunts Janice and Janine have his fun-loving attitude. Grandpa may be gone, but he is definitely not forgotten.
Some of my family members read this blog. If you’re here today, please take a minute to share some of your favorite Chet memories! Let’s remember him today…
UPDATED TO INCLUDE FACEBOOK COMMENTS FROM MY FAMILY: