Monday, February 22, 2016

Goodbye Grandpa Buzz

I did not expect to write this today, but I knew it was coming.

My darling grandfather passed away yesterday, peacefully, with his daughter by his side. He was, I believe, either 95 or 96, quite a respectful age for anyone to reach, and he had lived a beautiful life. Human, fraught with the usual weaknesses, but beautiful and amazing, nonetheless.

Buzz was a person you would like to have met. He was born in Hoisington, Kansas, and had a sister, Beatrice. I won't tell you what Buzz' real name was, because he really hated it, but suffice it to say that Buzz always fit him better.

If I'm not mistaken, he flew planes for the Navy during the second world war. He did not serve overseas, he delivered finished planes from factories out East to the naval base in California. Buzz loved being a pilot, and was always passionate about flying.

While in California, he met my beautiful grandmother, Jean, who was a nurse, and also served in the armed forces. He wooed her by playing his guitar under her window, and even though she had been engaged to someone else, she broke it off and married Buzz soon after. He used to take her out dancing nearly every week, where they showed off their jitterbug skills.

After the war, they eventually moved to Pueblo and started their family. My aunts Rebecca and Abigail were born, and much later, my father came along. Buzz became a businessman of great acumen, selling, among other products, his favorite condiment, Tabasco sauce. He famously put it on almost everything he ate, and even brought some to his nursing home.

When my brother and I were young, Grandpa had retired from business, but was an avid amateur journalist, often submitting his work to local newspapers. He arranged music for his church choir on his home keyboard, which he practiced daily. He loved to tease his grandkids, telling us that if we ever saw such a thing as a white horse, he would take us all to Dairy Queen. When we reported having seen one, he disbelieved our story and would argue that we must have seen an 'albino zebra' or a 'pygmy albino giraffe'. But sometimes Grandma would make him live up to his side of the bargain and off to DQ we'd go.

We loved visiting Buzz and Jean at their home in Escondido, CA where they lived in the winter months. I have many blissful memories of leaving Colorado blizzards for California sunshine, and getting to go to Disneyland, which we surely would never have been able to do without them.

After my grandmother passed away in 2001, Buzz continued on. We know he missed her terribly, as we all did, but he kept busy, kept on making a life for himself. He eventually moved back to Pueblo, and found great kindness in the attention of his daughter Abigail, and all the Pueblo kin, who did their best to care for him and show their love. I am so grateful to my aunts, both, for the love and kindness they showed by looking after Buzz and making sure he had everything he needed.

The last time I saw my Grandpa, he told me several times that I looked wonderful. He didn't have his glasses on, and I thought, how can he tell? But I think he meant that seeing me felt wonderful to him, and the feeling was mutual. Buzz loved me enormously, was proud of my husband and always wanted to hear updates about his business, and even did his best to play with Maeve, even though there were 90 years between them. Buzz was a man of great warmth and kindness, and I'm so lucky to have had him in my life all these years.

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