Today my dear grandfather left his mortal form and passed on. Since I’m unable to grieve with my family in person, I’m sharing this here to celebrate his life and proclaim my good fortune in having such a pillar as a family member.
When I celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year, I acknowledged how incredibly privileged I’ve been to have a grandparent well into the middle of my life. But the privilege was even greater with a grandparent as special as Crawford.
Thinking about him reminds me of that line from the “Wizard of Oz” when the Tin Man is told “a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” Crawfie, as our family affectionately called him, was both widely loved and extremely well loved by others.
He was a local treasure in his community of Warner Robins, Georgia. In addition to the online party we had for him to celebrate his 100th birthday, his local friends organized a socially-distanced, drive by celebration. It lasted two hours – that’s how many people drove by.
Why was he so popular? Not only was he friendly, but he had a sharp sense of humor, a warm generosity, and a decided joie de vivre – a most definite joy in being alive – that was simply contagious.
Crawfie was the type of person who could make friends anywhere, but his warmth wasn’t a superficial one. It was authentic and genuine.
Strangers loved him, his friends loved him, and our family also loved him. More than one of my family members called him their best friend. I guess that’s what happens to those who are so generous with their attention and spirit – they become the best friend of many different people.
For me, Crawfie was more than a grandfather. He was a ray of sunshine. Sure, everyone is human and I did see him grumpy on a couple of occasions, but overall his reigning mood and personality was one of good cheer, humor, and joy, making him an excellent role model.
It’s no coincidence that my husband Chad reminds me a lot of him. More of us should be so lucky to be surrounded by such kind people.
My grandfather was a POW during World War II, and I got to know him even better when I volunteered to transcribe his war memoires for him – you can read them here. I got to learn his stories by heart, stories that are as memorable, moving, and funny as he himself was.
No one gets to live forever, but if ever that chance was given to a human being – I would have voted for Crawfie. He was an exemplary human being – and will forever remain an uncommonly bright spirit.