Grandpa Curtis September 1915 - September 2010
Is it weirdly cosmic that three of my grandparents were born in August except the one born September 1st? I'll leave that to the astrologers. I actually just recently blogged about the passing of my mother's father, because he died two months ago. I can't even believe it has been two months already. Grandpa Curtis was a legend. A golfer extraordinaire, a faithful companion to his dog(s), a man who supervised the construction of power plants across the nation and may well be partly responsible for the electricity powering the computer on which you read this. A jokester (in a sly, sardonic way), a teller of stories, a man who famously "hasn't been to a movie theater since Patton in 1970" but was among the first in our family to pop up with an AOL address back in 1996. A man who has seen much of the seas (in the Navy) and all of the U.S., except that he doesn't count Texas. Grandpa has pined away for Grandma from the day of her death in 1997 until his dying day this fall. Grandpa made us all frustrated and sad when he acted as if he was alone on his island of suffering that no one understood, but we also were grateful to him for keeping her memory alive. I can honestly say that on some deep, cellular level I thought Grandpa would be around forever, and also that I am glad he got to live as much life as he did.
Grandma Napikoski August 1922 - May 2007
I moved to Boston in November of 2002, and after a life in the Southwest/West I was now close to the New England side of the family for all sorts of holidays - they even get together for Easter and stuff, good Catholics - and other random occasions. The only regret here is that I didn't have a car while in Boston. Now that I knew the way (can we say Route 2?) I could have zipped out to Millers Falls every other week on my days off. Instead I was forever hitching rides with my aunt or cousin who lived elsewhere in Massachusetts. Anyway, I got to spend time at Grandma N.'s house with actual adult conversation. It was the sad time of her life, because Grandpa was gone and her health started declining more rapidly as well. But we talked. Many of the things I did were not part of her world: I constantly jabbered about Dante or traveling to Cuba or politics or teaching in Korea or whatever. She would comment matter-of-factly about career, marriage, saving money, settling down and other traditional notions of success, but she certainly listened and offered support to everything I said. I was glad that we reached a point of laid back, comfortable conversation.
Grandma Napikoski liked to knit. She was a talented, prolific knitter. She did other crafts, too - very crafty, especially with the fabrics. When I entered the downsizing portion of my life, the t-shirts I never wore had to go, but I wanted to somehow keep the ones from special events, high school plays, and the like. Grandma made me a fabulous quilt out of my t-shirts. I think she really liked the project. She was involved with her church in that tiny little New England town and made a gazillion crafts every year for their holiday sale.
Thanks to my sister, who now has three kids, I got to watch Grandma Napikoski be a great-grandparent. I liked seeing the delight in her eyes around multiple great-grandchildren, and I'm glad my sister made the effort to travel across the country to see her. Grandma really wanted to stay in that house in that tiny town up to the very end. She was basically the last holdout to not get online and join the emailing, but we always exchanged tons of letters and cards, and I'm glad we kept doing that. I like letters. We kept writing when I left New England for New York. Grandma N. passed away at the end of my first year of law school. I'm sad that my aunt saw to it that the big old house got cleaned out and sold right away, because the visiting-Millers-Falls era of our life truly came to an end.