It's December 7, and all my Christmas shopping is done. Yes, I'm bragging--but only a little. I mean, last year I had book signings all month and only had time to do my Christmas shopping in the few days before the actual holiday. It. was. madness. SO glad to be done!
Of course, December 7 has a different significance. This is the day in 1941 that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and our response as a nation drew us into WWII. My grandfather served in WWII. He was always a man I loved and admired--and not just because of that. He was a most remarkable man. He passed away around Christmas time, so I always have a tender spot for him this time of year.
My grandfather, Walter Charles Rohan, lived a full life. He met my grandmother--a divorced woman with three young children--while she worked as a waitress in a cafe. They began a cautious relationship until her son--my father--looked up at Walt and asked, "When are you going to marry my mother?" He was ten years old.
Walt not only married Ella, but he legally adopted all three children. They went on to have two children of their own, and built a house up on SLC's East Bench (which grandma sold for a tidy sum just before the housing market crashed).
Grandpa never distinguished his "real" children from his adopted children. They were all his. In fact, I didn't even know my dad was adopted until I was 16, at which time the family consensus was, "I thought you knew." It was one of those things the family didn't discuss, not because it was meant to be a secret but simply because it didn't matter.
Walt was a quiet man in his older years--when I knew him. As a young child, I remember he could drive, but he became legally blind and could no longer operate a car. Grandma never learned to drive. Grandpa survived cancer. Eventually his body gave in. It had become too tired to carry on. I remember when my brother called me to tell me Grandpa had passed. He cried. I cried because he cried. We knew it was for the best, that he was no longer in pain and now Grandma didn't have to care for him round the clock--but we would miss his quiet, gentle ways. His constant presence on the couch at so many family gatherings. His calming influence on those around him.
He outlived my father by twenty years. It had to have been hard to lose a son, but it wasn't something he talked about. Grandpa came from that generation that doesn't talk about those things. I miss him. I miss them both, sometimes.