I was excited to find this 64 year old article and the letter that accompanied it not only for the glimpse into a part of my grandpa that I never knew, but also because my grandma had deemed it worthy of keeping. (And my grandma could have taught classes on clutter free living.)
By the time I was old enough to remember my grandpa, alcoholism and emphysema had taken their toll. He spent most of his time at home leaning on the banister at the top of the stairs. He usually had a moment for us kids – either to complain that we were running through the house or to stop us and tease us – and to tell us that the sandbox behind the house was his. (The sandbox wasn't his I discovered. Although I staunchly defended my grandpa's claim to the sandbox, it belonged to the neighbor kid. The neighbor kid and I settled the sandbox dispute with an agreement. I agreed to play toy soldiers – my first and last game ever – in exchange for a game of tag and we quickly became friends, running around the neighborhood playing made up games that enlisted all the kids we could find. Grandpa teased me about that as well.)
There's one memory of Grandpa that made an impact on my adult life. One of my older cousins brought her infant daughter by to visit. When my grandpa held the baby, his whole face lit up. The baby was soon snatched away from him but I promised myself that when I had a baby I'd bring him by for Grandpa to hold. Unfortunately Grandpa died 22 years before that could happen, but every time I visit a nursing home – with my dog before and now occasionally with my kids – and watch people's faces light up, I remember that promise.