This week I attended my grandfather's funeral.
Now that the dust has settled a bit, I sit here trying to think of what to say about it.
I guess I could start by saying that I loved him. Very much.
I could also say that I know that he excelled at many things: being a husband for 60 years, a father, a salesman, a member of his church, a committed volunteer, but most importantly, to me, it was at being a grandfather.
(Yes, I DO say.)
Since he is currently busy catching up with his brother, Fr. Frankie, filling out Heaven HR paperwork (I bet you he's all, "You'd think they'd have this stuff on file.") watching over his wife, and checking in on his beloved Red Sox, I'll lay out what he surely could have written:
Papa White's Guide on How To on Be an Awesome Papa.
(he probably would have titled it better than I just did.)
1. Have a sense of humor. Don't take yourself too seriously. Know how to laugh.
No really, close your eyes and put your back into it.
"Oh dear, there he goes again."
I believe I inherited his sense of humor and his fillings.
2. When no one is looking, slip a kid a buck. Or five.
He did this once in awhile when I was younger and I and was always thrilled with this covert act of generosity. And I did what any responsible kid would do, I
blew it on candy and stickers put that money in a Roth IRA so that in '07 I would be able to purchase my first home.
3. You are there for your grandkids' amusement. This is just part of life's deal.
Before there was "Stuff on My Cat" apparently we kids invented the game "Stuff on My Grandpa".
Sometimes, we'd leave him with the kids:
To be an awesome granddad, you sit there and you take it-- you take it like a man.
Others, the whole family:
Here two year-old Emily rounds out the 5th spot for The Little Village People.
4. Have a sense of style. Show the kids how it's done.
I mean, really, does anything beat getting to say, "My Papa is wicked suave looking?"
Look, we can't all do big arms!...I'll do big arms and you just look at me and go, 'Ooh, he's doing big arms.'
Oh wait, unless you would you count, "My grandfather is so debonair that even Cary Grant is taking notes."
I mean, I would.
5. When you are playing Stratego or Battleship against your junior high-aged granddaughter and she blows you up, pay her a compliment to encourage her competitive nature while still showing what it is to be a good sport.
You could, for example, refer to her as "Khadafi" every now and again. Trust me, it'll warm her heart.
6. As the years wear on, show them it's never too late to try something new.
Say, oh I don't know, a new hairdo:
"Hello, 1986 called, and it wants its 'Flock of Seagulls" hairstyle back."
7. Show that even the smallest of gestures, the ones that don't cost anything, can sometimes can mean more to a kid than a shiny, new Miata.
Up until recently, every year my grandparents would each grab a phone in their house and call me to sing Happy Birthday.
Often, my grandfather started off the song using a pitch pipe, which cracked me every time. If I was lucky enough to get the live show, the 2 of them would be seen bowing in front of me as they sung with my present hidden behind their back. Truly a remarkable performance.
(and people wonder why I love my birthday so much. WONDER NO MORE.)
8. Love the love of your life with all your heart. Show the kids what true love looks like, how a woman should be treated (even if you do drive her nuts sometimes, even if she is one very sarcastic broad).
You hold on to the one you love tightly. You see, that is just good sense.
Anyway, while I'm here stating the obvious, I'll end with I'm going to miss the man I called Papa.
I know we all will.