He is called Hawk, but he’s also called my Grandpa Frank. And he was grand.
Hawk was easy to spot. In his younger days–like when he was 70–he wore a sailor’s cap that I’d always steal and put on my own head. In his older years–like when he was 80–he wore a cowboy hat. By that time in his life he’d traded Newport Beach for Park City, and the hat change just made sense.
My Grandpa Frank was nothing like your grandpa or any other grandpa, for that matter. He tried to catch the garter at my wedding. He went to Burning Man as a Senior Citizen. He told us tales of that one time he was in jail. He was friends with Poppa Neutrino and made photo albums of all the pictures he took at our family gatherings. And he was always having the Best Day Ever (BDEVER).
Some people would describe Grandpa Frank as a “character” and he was, but he was also never anything but loving and generous. He didn’t necessarily show his love by coming to my school plays or soccer games, but he was the guy who always slipped me a $100 bill on birthdays and Christmas, who sent approximately 10-12 e-mail forwards per day to stay in touch, and who basically made me feel like I could do no wrong.
“Mizzzzz Lezley!” he’d say when he saw me, and I took delight in the way he emphasized the Z even though I hated it when anyone else said it that way. Grandpa Frank would always give me a huge hug and a big wet kiss, which I also liked even though wet kisses are usually disgusting.
Last week, in the middle of packing, I traveled to Salt Lake City for a night just because we knew his final days were drawing near. I purchased a plane ticket at 3pm, hopped on a flight with Owen at 4:45pm, and was chatting with Grandpa Frank by 8pm. For a guy just days away from passing, he was very alert, happy and talkative. He asked about Jonathan’s new job, and our big move to Santa Barbara, and told me I’d love the streams running through our new San Roque neighborhood. He also wanted to know about my writing. About a year ago he’d told me about Erma Bombeck and I’d downloaded a collection of her newspaper articles about suburban mom life in the 1960s. Erma, in my opinion, was the original Dooce, and led the way for female writers, particularly moms. “You’re going to be like Erma,” he said, “But better.” I loved being able to tell him that I’d bought her book based on his suggestion. “When you publish that book someday,” he said, “I’ll be reading.” I told him he would have the advance copy, if he wanted.
When my Grandma Jeanne passed away last year, I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. And, even if I had, she may not have understood since dementia had taken hold of her mind for several years. I’m so grateful I had the chance to spend time with Grandpa Frank before he left this earth but I’m even more grateful to have had him in my life all these years.
I began this post last night, knowing my Grandpa’s time was drawing very near. He passed away peacefully this morning in Park City, Utah. We will miss him dearly.
Erma Bombeck’s Who’s grander than grandparents?