It's been a while. I know, baby, I missed you too. So much. I missed your golden-lit macaronis, the velvet creaminess of your coffee-based beverage products, your good time tumblr reposts. I want to laugh, baby, I want to take a bite so good I have to close my eyes for a whole minute, I want to get back into the things we love to do together, but it's hard.
See, we've been away. In town, but away from the kitchen, away from the keyboard, away from the camera. It's been a busy couple weeks, and not in a good way. My grandfather has died. We've been at the hospital, the funeral home, we've been holding hands, and yes, we've been weeping.
His name was Sidney William Huffman and he was my mother's father, a man of 89 years and until his last day still fit, still plugged like a wire into his boots, still caring for the family--and the lawn--that he loved. He was my last surviving grandparent and though I've had nearly thirty years to get to know him, I didn't know him well enough. I guess this is always the way it goes, that you don't truly appreciate how much you care for someone until they're gone, but knowing that's how it goes doesn't make it any easier to face.
I keep thinking about the things I didn't know. Looking through old pictures the night after he died gave me some specific gaps. I found out that he, like me, was a great fan of hats. I never knew we had this in common. I saw him in his youth in fedoras, in driving caps, decked out in double-breasted suits with his arms around brothers who have since grown old and preceded him into eternity. And maybe it's a waste of energy, but I can't help think I should have known. Not just this but all of it. Everything. His life's stories. He was always so readily available, his house only a mile or so from mine while I lived here, but I knew him as a child knows an adult. Incompletely, with the assumptions and unquestioned discrepancies of youth. I knew he went to war in 1942 but simultaneously also thought he was on Hawaii during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I know he worked for Gallo Glass, but I confess I haven't the slightest idea what he did there. This is just trivia, I know, just the stuff that makes up our days not what makes up our lives, but what we are as people must be written in what we leave behind us, the memories of our family and friends are the marks we make on the world. I fear that the memories I have of my grandfather are not a good enough legacy for the man he was.
Since he passed, my cousins have been collecting, scanning, and distributing old pictures of him. Though he was born in 1920, he lived his life in the time of the camera so we have pictures all the way back to him and his siblings as children. I thought it would be a fitting tribute to share a couple of the pictures from his vibrant youth including a photo booth series of he and my grandma, and then what might be the last picture of the two of us together, from our welcome home party in July. Here is what Sidney Huffman was, a soldier, a good father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and as you can see below, totally awesome. It's hard to imagine the world without him.
Goodbye Grandpa. I didn't know you well enough, but I love you.