FACTS ABOUT MY GRANDFATHER, STANLEY, ON THE EVENT OF HIS 91ST BIRTHDAY

  1. Born to French Canadians in Moncton, New Brunswick on May 7, 1924
  2. Named for the Polish saint Stanislas. His mother liked the sound of that.
  3. Raised on a farm with his 11 brothers and sisters. He had two more, but they did not survive childhood. One died very young from illness. One was accidentally run over by a tractor driven by another brother. This is the kind of heartbreaking, gruesome farm accident which devastates a family that has no time to float in grief.
  4. Got a pass from fighting in WWII when he contacted tuberculosis. He wanted to fight.
  5. Moved to the US in the late 40s, did the requisite year of army duty in El Paso, Texas and then decided he was going to move to Alaska with a buddy. First stopped in Fitchburg, MA to say goodbye to his sister Dorraine who was living there for some reason. He fell in love with her neighbor.
  6. He married my grandmother on July 1st, 1950. My grandmother wore a rented dress. They were madly in love and married for nearly 61 years.
    They moved to Lodi, NJ and raised four daughters with good fifties names: Linda, Brenda, Donna, and Yvonne
  7. Made his living as a steelworker and proud member of USW.
  8. Republican. Told me that he'd die before voting for a Democrat
    I work in Democratic politics
  9. This is not how I've known him, but I have been told that in the 50s and 60s he harbored bigoted views. This changed when one of his teenage daughters became pregnant with her black boyfriend. My grandfather was faced with a choice: disown his daughter or stand by her and her son, Brian.
    It is such a small act in the grand scheme of things, but we as a family are so lucky he chose love. The choice also drastically changed my grandfather's view of the world. (sidenote: Brian is now clearly my grandfather's favorite grandchild because he's just by far the best of us).
  10. Almost died at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas on a family vacation celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary because his doctor accidentally prescribed him meds for high blood pressure even though he has low blood pressure. So his heart nearly slowed to a stop like a wind-up toy.
  11. Very Catholic. Very socially conservative. Feels weird to love someone so much who thinks I'll burn in hell if I get an abortion.
  12. Is the most stubborn man I have ever met. My grandmother died in 2011. My grandfather could not take communion at her funeral on account of being in the bathroom on account of having taken my grandmother's UTI pills because he thought he was "getting a cold" and because he "paid good money for those pills"
  13. Is Red Sox ride or die.
    My aunt's second wedding was in a gazebo outside in fall and he was freezing. The only hat anyone had to give him was a Yankees cap and I thought he might die then and there.
  14. Taught me how to play blackjack.
    Loves the tables at Atlantic City maybe more than he loves Jesus but would never admit it.
  15. Showed me this turtle once.