My grandfather's funeral is today - and this is the eulogy I wrote for him. I'm so sad today...
When I woke up this morning, my first thought was that my grandmother had something to do with making this such a pretty day, the sky was so blue and the sunshine so bright - it gives me enormous comfort to think of how happy she must be to have him with her again. She's been missing him for a long time, and as much as it hurts today, I can smile a little knowing that they are together again.
My grandfather had close to fifty grandchildren and great grandchildren, and every one of us always, always felt so loved and cherished by him. When I talk with my cousins about their memories of Grandpa, everyone had something special that stood out for them... When Grandpa came to meet Tylor, the first great grandchild, he dressed up for the occasion. Everyone else was in jeans, but Grandpa wore his best, because he was so happy and so proud to have a great grandchild. Grandpa loved having the kids around - he loved it when we were all little and crawling all over him, and was even happier when our kids were doing it. When my brothers and I were younger, my grandfather took us hiking up Mt. Monadnock, and the best part was that he packed trail mix and kept telling us that we were really eating aborigine's ear lobes. Canoe rides and long hikes, exploring mountain paths and just hanging out on the porch, playing chess and talking. He used to take us over to the golf course, cutting thru the woods and avoiding the dreaded "black golf cart" with he and Jan. They spent hours pointing out the constellations to us. The number of times he brought out his telescope so we would could see first hand that the universe was so much more than we thought it was.
So many of us went camping all the time as kids - because my grandfather raised his kids to be outside, climbing trees, exploring the woods and spending as much as possible in the mountains. And our parents made sure that they did the same with us - I still can't let my kids sit inside on a nice day, and I know that comes from Grandpa. Grandpa spent as much time outside with us as possible, telling our mothers to let us run, climb the trees, splash in puddles and get as dirty as we could. I know it's from him that I got the sense that a grubby child is a happy one, playing in mud is a privilege of childhood. I remember long walks around the bog in Carlisle with Grandpa, with him pointing out the geese and telling us stories from his childhood.
He was brilliant and kind, devoted to family, he loved the outdoors, loved the mountains. He taught us about Carruth Shortcuts and that the journey was so much more important that the destination. He taught us about the wonders of warm buttered popcorn eaten like a bowl of cereal with milk. It sounds gross - but was really good, and I would never have known that without Grandpa. He seemed to have special names for each of us - Blueberry Eyes, or Porkchop. I don't think he ever called me by name - it was always Chicken. He was the smartest man I'd ever met, he knew everything it seemed. I remember loving watching Jeopardy with him - he knew all the answers, every time. He was never not in the middle of a book - I learned that from him. Long chess games, it was a major accomplishment when we'd beat him. Grandpa never let us get off easy, and he never lost without a serious fight. He kept Playboys in the backseat of his car - so every kid who went on a "Carruth Shortcut" with him (and we all did), got to be either horrified or fascinated by Grandpa's reading material - I think sometimes he kept them back there just to see the reaction. He used to take out his teeth, just to freak us out. There's nothing Grandpa liked more than getting a reaction from us - he used to pretend to be an incredibly offensive driver, swearing at other drivers on the road, calling them more and more creative names, just to make us yell at him. And the whistling - he could whistle the entire drive from Massachusetts to Vermont - and frequently did when we were in the car with him. He took us everywhere - when I think about my childhood, it's punctuated with trips with Grandpa - to the top of Cadillac Mountain, to Quincy Market, to every little hole in the wall museum in New England.
So much of who I am today, I can trace back to my grandfather. I remember when I was eight or nine, he got me a subscription for National Geographic Magazine, because he felt like my Sweet Valley High books weren't intellectually stimulating enough for his granddaughter. Grandpa made me love learning - I wanted to be just like him, as smart, as well read, I wanted to know everything just like him. He gave me so many books - there was nobody I liked showing my report cards as much as I liked showing them to Grandpa. Growing up in Maynard, I was always knows in relation to someone else, Mary's daughter, Jan's niece, Scott's older sister - but I was never prouder than when someone would say "Oh, you're Earl's granddaughter." Grandpa taught me about the Continental Divide, the difference between Republicans and Democrats, and taught me what it meant to love and be loved. I never felt anything other than cherished and loved as his granddaughter.
I hope to live the sort of life that he did - to have experienced a love that's as vibrant and as real today as it was when my grandmother died twenty six years ago, to raise a family that's as strong and as loving. To be able to travel, I know that he loved being able to see the world like that, and having Nancy beside him for that part of his life made it so much better for him. I'm crying today, not for my grandfather, because I know that he's in a better place and I know that he's at peace now. I know that he lived a long and wonderful life, that he raised his children with love and wonder and that his grandchildren and great grandchildren were raised the same way because of him. I hope for my children that my daughters are loved the way my grandfather loved my grandmother, and that my son grows up to be the kind of man that he was.