My grandpa died last week. He was a WWII veteran, he fought on the beaches of Normandy and got a certificate from the French Government thanking him for his service. He also had to go to Germany and clean out concentration camps after the war. He never talked about it.
He was a farmer and later on he was a mailman. He loved white bread and butter. He put salt on his watermelon. He used to say, "What the..." and never finish the sentence. He would yawn really loud about 5:30 and head to bed at 6:00, and then get up at 4:00 a.m. and put the TV on really loud.
One day, my grandpa was on one of his two daily walks (he had heart disease and it was doctor's orders) when he saw a little bird on the sidewalk. It was a cockatiel. He bent down and put his hand by the bird, and the bird crawled up his arm and onto his shoulder. He rode grandpa's shoulder all the way home, and ended up staying there. My grandma put up signs and called the police in case anyone had called looking for a lost bird, but nobody claimed him. They named him Fido.
Grandpa really liked animals, especially the many dogs in his life. He named them all Chips.
My grandma only let grandpa have one place for his stuff - on a table in the garage. It was a huge mess, and had all sorts of weirdo things. Tools, twine, broken stuff that he might have been planning to fix.
One time I asked grandpa for a quarter to get some gum from the corner store, and he said he'd only give me a nickel, because that's how much he used to get when he was a kid. He was a thrifty guy, for sure. He always carried around one of those oval coin things that you squeeze to open, and it was usually bursting with pennies.
When we'd go to visit, we'd ring the doorbell and if he answered, he'd say "We don't want any!" in a crabby voice. It was his favorite joke.
Whenever grandma would nag him too much, he'd make a face behind her back and stick his tongue out.
When my mom and dad went to the hospital when Page was born, my grandpa came to stay with us. My brother and I were scared and we made him sleep between us in mom and dad's bed. I can't remember where grandma was. I do remember that Rob and I were WILD, we were excited, and we were also being loud for the last time because we'd have to be quiet for the new baby. I vaguely remembering grandpa getting pissed and making us go to bed early.
He didn't talk much, but when he did, it was usually hilarious.
I love you, grandpa.