Growing up, I always had a special relationship with my mother's father, who I began addressing as "Grandpa Buddy" almost as soon as I could talk. I'm not really sure where the kinship came from, but we were indeed buddies and very good friends except for the occasions when my stubborn, undisciplined personality ran up against his stubborn, very disciplined personality. These, fortunately, became less common as I grew up and actually started trying to do something with my life.
For all of my Buddy's life that I knew him, he was an avid fan of bow ties and only owned a couple of long ties for special occasions. Because of his thrifty nature, he figured out how to make them himself and consequently had a few hundred homemade bow ties. He and my grandmother were on a mission when my big sister got married so in order to represent them at the reception, all the men in the family sported bow ties from his collection.
When I was a young child, I had an obsession with what I called "bears," which means any stuffed animal or doll. It didn't matter if it was human, rabbit, or reptile, if it was in my collection it was classified as a bear. Consequently, when my fourth birthday rolled around, I thought it would be neat if Grandpa Buddy gave me a bear- with a bow tie on. Grandpa thought this was a great idea and purchased a stuffed panda bear for me, then added the crowning touch with a homemade miniature bow tie for the bear. The bear with the bow tie still graces my bed, over two decades later.
Grandpa loved numbers more than just about any person I know, including my father, who knows more math than most math professors. He wrote his autobiography specially laid out in fifty chapters. When Rebecca, who was his editor, suggested the material for a fifty-first chapter, it wound up as an appendix because he just couldn't stand the thought of his beautiful fifty-chapter biography layout being spoiled. In fact, one of those fifty chapters is entitled "Love Those Numbers." (Another one is called "Bow Ties," incidentally). My favorite part of that chapter is a paragraph explaining how there is no such thing as an uninteresting number. Bless you, Buddy.
I could go on all day about the things I love and the funny quirks that make me laugh, but that would get really long. The reason I've been thinking about this today is that this is the anniversary of his death, three years ago. He had a short bout of very intense, widespread cancer, and then he was gone, surprisingly young for a member of his notoriously long-lived family.
His funeral was an interesting experience, not the least for the fact that he had planned the program himself, including asking Matt and I to perform Meditation of a Theme by Thais, on flute and piano. Amidst the tears that coursed down my cheeks, I really actually enjoyed the funeral. Grandpa asked some of his closest friends, who had lived near him for decades, to give the life sketch and talks, and the fun, wonderful stories that we heard that day filled my heart with a warm glow. And that's what I felt today when I thought about my Buddy. I miss him a lot, and I'm sad to think that he won't be there when I get married (whenever that is) and that he won't know my children. But I mostly just can't help smiling, and looking forward to greeting him again and getting an enthusiastic "Hello, Maria Buddy!" and a big warm hug and a huge smack on the cheek. I can't wait to hear his hearty laugh again while we make terrible puns together. And I sure hope there are word games in Heaven, because I sure would like to see him and Becca duel out another game of Scrabble.
I wish everyone was lucky enough to have a Grandpa Buddy.