Happy Birthday Grandfather

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Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, Birthdays,
Graduations, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day,
Halloween and Thanksgiving. Those are some of the holidays I spent with my
Grandfather. Holidays we all spent with Grandfather. My grandfather was a
family man, he was a brother, an uncle, a son, a nephew, a husband, a
father, a grandfather and a great grandfather and his family meant the
world to him. There are a few things you could always count on my
grandfather to do on the holidays. The first of which was never open his
gifts. Every holiday we would shower him with gifts and he would hold them
in thier wrapped paper, admire them carefully and thank you profusely but
never open them.

The other thing you could count on my Grandfather for at every holiday was
to have a raffle. He would gather everyone in the living room of my
Grandparent’s house and hand out numbers. He would rub his hands together
as he chose one of the smaller of the bunch to be his assistant with the
raffle and he would introduce the prizes for that day. Always a jar of
nickels, dimes and pennies, always a collection of quarters, a flashlight
and a book you could only get from his collection. Everything he raffled
off were things he would have been saving for weeks, sometimes months
because when his family came together in his home he wanted to make sure
everyone had something they would be able to leave with.

That’s who my Grandfather was, a family man that never stopped looking out
for his family. The father of 12 children, a husband of __ years, a
grandfather to countless grandchildren and a greatgrandfather he was the
man you could count on. At a very young age I aspired to be just like my
Grandfather,. I wanted to go to Howard like he did, I wanted to be part of
the Divine Nine like him, I wanted to make him proud and proud I made him
at every turn. He was a man that cherished the value of family and worked
to instill that in every person that was a part of his family. Every
Sunday night that I lived in New York we would talk. Often, I would be
riding the train home from the city and when I called he would always say,
“Hello Granddaughter. Where are you?” and then we would talk the whole way
home and I could always hear his sigh of relief when I got in the house for
the evening. This Sunday as I rode the train home I reflected on our
conversations and I thought about all he’s taught me in 32 years of life
and all that he would want me to share with others and it boiled down to
one message: There’s nothing more important than family and your family is
around you everywhere you go.

My grandfather loved his Kentucky Fried Chicken, he loved his long walks
through the city, he loved Easter Egg hunts on Easter morning, he loved to
tell a good story (particularly the one about how he got his tonsils out in
a BOGO deal), he loved sweets and my father’s grilled salmon, he loved
Oyster Stew on Christmas morning, he loved the sound of my nephew’s laugh,
he loved doling out advice and most of all he loved his wife, his children,
his grandchildren, his great grandchildren, and his brothers and sisters.
He loved his family and as we all gather here today we miss him and the
constant love he gave each and every one of us. It’s understandable to feel
sad and to be grieving and although there’s not an official raffle here
today, it’s just like any other gathering in which I know my Grandfather
wouldn’t want any of us to leave empty handed and so as we say good-bye and
leave his presence today I invite all of you to take with you the gift he
has given us. Take with you every memory you’ve built with him, every piece
of advice he’s given out, every moment you’ve shared and most of all take
with you the gift of his love for that was a seed he intentionally planted
inside of each one of us and spent years nurturing and growing, knowing one
day it would be the most important thing he would leave behind.

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