Grandpa, Redux

There is a little, wooden, carved man’s head that

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resurfaces in the house from time to time. It represents my grandfather who died when I was six. I was a child raised under the strong influence of grandparents.

The story goes that my dad retrieved this as it was coming down some pneumatic tube in the chemistry lab he worked in sometime, I’d guess, about 1975. He and my grandfather (my mom’s dad) worked for the same corporation though in different departments.

When my dad retrieved it, he saw that one of my grandfather’s friends had carved out this little likeness and wrote his last name on it. Norton.

I remember my father coming home from work and telling us that story and then giving this to me. I’ve kept it close all these years.

My grandfather was very well loved by many folks. Apparently he had a rather dynamic personality, even though it could be said that he was prone to some excesses. He was a very musical man and could play a bit by ear. Less than a month before he died, he taught me how to play “Nearer My God to Thee” on a toy organ I got for Christmas–my parents were waiting till we moved to buy a piano.

Little did I know that 39 years later, I’d be asked to play for his last remaining sister’s funeral. It was an honor to be asked. A high honor, at that. My cousins are very dear to me.

I have this black notebook of song selections that I take with me, and I usually play the first song I randomly open up to. I didn’t realize until well into the funeral service that perhaps I’d been “influenced” to turn right to “Nearer My God to Thee” and play that first thing. In the moment, I had not even made the connection.

I guess it could be said that my grandfather paid that forward some 39 years, nearly to the day, before.

Pretty amazing, huh? But not entirely out of the ordinary for my life these days

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