Last night I was with my family at the dinner table when my dad commented that the following day it would be 37 years since his father passed away. So, 37 years ago today. Yesterday, a note also reminded me that my mom’s dad passed away 7 years ago that day. Yes, I lost both grandfathers, though 30 years apart, on Jan 5 & 6.

I never was able to meet my paternal grandfather. My dad was a teen when his dad died of cancer. From the stories I hear, Grandpa would have loved his grandchildren, especially us girls, probably would have spoiled us, too. He also loved music. At Christmas, he would hook his stereo to outdoor speakers and would play Christmas music through the neighborhood for everyone to listen. I’m sure he would have enjoyed listening to the music my sister and I play today. He loved baseball, too. A good Chicago White Sox fan. That’s where I get it from, I guess. He would be excited about his grandson’s baseball experiences thus far. I’m sure he’d be proud of each of us grandkids. He’d be excited that we were able to visit Italy, though we didn’t make it to his hometown. He was born in Calabria and came to America as a child. My grandma’s older sister babysat him over there. During World War II, Grandpa served in the armed forces and drove an ambulance. From what I understand, he didn’t talk much of that time but from the stories, he didn’t seem bothered by the scrapes his kids showed him. After the war, my grandpa and grandma met in Bradford, Pennsylvania and moved to Chicago, where my grandma was from. Before my dad was born, they left the city to move to Skokie. About 15 years later, my grandfather passed away. I wish I could have met my grandfather. The stories he would tell, the love he would show, all that a grandpa means.

But I did have the wonderful opportunity of knowing my other grandpa, my mom’s dad. This grandpa was fun, boyish, like his wife, my grandma, is girlish. Grandpa and Grandma raised their twelve children on a dairy farm up in central Wisconsin. Though there were many difficult times, the humorous stories abound. My memories of Grandpa start after he and Grandma sold the farm and moved to Iowa, and then Florida. It was always great fun when Grandma and Grandpa would come to visit. I had a flower halloween costume and Grandpa took the headpiece, a ring of flower petals, and put it on his own head. He liked to tickle our knees or run his bristly beard on our cheeks. And, rumor has it, he liked his cigars. Grandpa was mainly Swedish and his last name was not always Reinold. His ancestors came over not too many generations back and that’s when the name changed. But, what I remember most about my grandpa was his teasing. And his humor. He was a bunch of fun!

Grandfathers are great people. I especially like mine. Though they are not longer here, their memory, their stories, linger. Anytime someone starts telling a story about one of them, I perk up. Each tale adds another demention to the picture I have of these men. I love them and I miss them.

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