Mostly, though, I remember ... nothing. It's sitting on his
porch, driving in his car, toting his golf clubs and simply enjoying his
presence. It's watching him don reading glasses to shuck every last
silken thread from that evening's corn on the cob. It's watching him
silently weed his garden. It's savoring the best days of my life: a week
in the summer at Grandma and Grandpa's.
He is not even my real grandfather. My grandfather by blood was
killed in one of the last battles of World War II, leaving behind a widow
and a toddler who would 30 years later be my mother.
Between marrying that widow and adopting that toddler and now, he
lived and breathed small-town baseball as player, coach and statesman. He
turned my two uncles into college stars, one of whom almost made it to
The Show. Not even Grandpa could turn my brother and I into decent
ballplayers, but he made us connoisseurs. And even my mother regularly
listens to A's games and knows her Ernie Banks from her Henry Aaron.
He saw the first generation of my family go to college. The
pitcher became a lawyer; the catcher, a teacher; and my mother, a
financial planner. And he taught them values of family the real kind,
not the dogmatic kind showboated by politicians and other charlatans.