Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Little Less Sparkle

My first memory of my Grandpa Henry was a story: they said when he was young, he was so strong that he could lift an entire car.

As an adult he raised horses, which were sometimes used for old westerns being filmed in his home state of Montana. Ronald Reagan himself rode my Grandpa's own horse in one of his movies.

When a youngster in his family needed a home, Grandpa Henry gave him one, raising him as his own.

When Grandpa got older, he sometimes had a hard time attaching all of our names to the right person at the right time. Once he was trying to get my name out and it came out "Howard" instead. My family has called me Howard as a nickname since. He always said I should "find a Mennonite to marry," because he thought Mennonite boys were honest, hard-working, and good.

When he told a joke, he would do it so subtly that we almost missed it. Upon realizing that he'd said something funny, we'd look over to see his head down, shoulders shaking in silent laughter.

When he said he would not live to see another Christmas, we all rushed to Montana to visit, in case it was our last chance. He was probably just messing with us: he lived to see two more Christmases.

But as it turns out, that was in fact the last time I saw him. Grandpa Henry passed away early this morning while we slept. In my mom's words, "The world is losing a little bit of sparkle today."

Rest in peace, Grandpa. We love and miss you.