Ten years ago, my Granddaddy died. Here are some of my favorite things about him.
- •He loved to tell stories.In my family, whenever someone takes too long to get their point across, we call it the "Mortimer version," because Granddaddy was not one for brevity.
- •He taught himself how to use a computer.It started with an obsession with Solitaire. My aunt gave him her old Macintosh, because he could play Solitaire on it and not have to deal with playing cards. Then he wanted to try e-mail, so we got him a new PC. He used the Internet every day. I'm still sad he missed out on Facebook. He would have LOVED Facebook.
- •He was obsessed with the show "As Time Goes By."It's a really lovely British sitcom. If you haven't seen it, you should. And if you ever came to visit my Granddaddy, you would have definitely seen it. He kept piles of VHS tapes with episodes recorded off of PBS, and he showed them to EVERYONE. He even kept track of the episodes with a 50+ page printout from some fansite online. It had a synopsis of every episode, including the ones that hadn't aired in the U.S. yet. "Those are 'spoilers,'" he told me. "Have you heard of that? Spoilers?"
- •He lost his right leg, and he kept going.Low circulation. The last few years of his life, he was confined to a chair. And he never stopped.
- •He's the best male role model I've ever had.My dad has always been a quiet, distant man. But my Granddaddy always understood me. I remember sitting in his living room, watching the Steve Martin "Father of the Bride," and both of us were crying. No shame, no embarrassment - just naked emotion on display. He showed me that was okay.
- •He didn't fear death.When I was a senior in high school - the year he died - I made a documentary short about him. He spoke freely about his mortality, and how he hoped to be around just one more year (he didn't make it that long). It ends with this: "I think it's mighty good to be kind to people. I sure do. And I listen to the preacher, and he says that God has put you here for a purpose. And so, we want to try to do what God wants us to do. And we don't know whether we have or not, but we're gonna try."