He was a big man, about six-foot-two or six-foot-three, with broad shoulders and (when I knew him) a head full of thick, silver hair. He liked to swear and drink coffee (though both were against his religion). He cut off two fingers in a shop accident and liked to do irreverent things with the nubs. He had a passion for his country, having served it honorably during World War II.
He loved to travel and had an unusually large collection of bowling balls in the basement. He made jewelery, and always wore turquoise rings on his fingers.
He was gruff and loving, all at once. He was the type that was embarrassed at affection, but would be thoughtful and generous to others. He liked order and discipline. It used to drive him crazy that I never finished a meal.
Oh, if only he could see me now. Grandpa, don't worry - I finish PLENTY of meals.
He had the best garden. I fell in love with crisp, green vegetables sitting around his table, the multi-colored terrycloth linens underneath the pink desert rose plates.
He loved his grandchildren and was tragically taken from them far too soon.
Here is a picture of Grandpa and Grandma at their wedding. Doesn't it look like he just can't get enough of her?
I love that picture. I think every woman ought to be worshiped and adored by her husband.
This time of year, I think of him fondly when I make his peanut butter fudge. I have no idea of the recipe's true origin, but when I taste it, I am transported back to a warm kitchen in a small, modest home. A bowl of nuts sit on the table next to the large toaster oven. The shiny, textured wallpaper smiles down on my freckled cheeks, pink from climbing a tree in the front yard.
A gruff voice yells as kids run in and out, though he shakes his head in laughter when they can't see. Ice cream is always in the basement freezer, and cookies are always in the bread box.
It's a place that is woven into the fabric of who I am. It's a home where hours of my childhood were spent happily climbing trees, playing the dusty organ in the basement, and hiding in the metal wardrobe. A place where cousins were always laughing and the love and soul of family was so thick you could taste it.
I love you, Grandpa. Miss you terribly, even after all these years. This batch is for you.
[And this, dear internets, is for you:]
You're welcome. Think of him when you make it, will you?