The only eulogy I've ever given was for my grandfather, this day in 2005. He twinkled like a star in our lives, a twinkle that we especially miss as Christmas draws near. He was a character. He liked fried eggs and soap operas, he called everyone George, and children loved him.
He was everyone's Boomps.
I was his first grandchild. As a baby, instead of calling him Grandpa I called him Boompa. Boompa stuck, and it became shortened to Boomps. It fit him perfectly – one of a kind, like no other, just plain fun.
Boomps was the best kind of grandfather – the type who got down on the floor with you, laughed at everything you said, and taught you things that made your parents crazy. I remember how all of us as children squealed with delight every time he stuck his false teeth out at us, one of his best tricks.
Young children loved to pat his bald head and would invariably ask why he didn’t have any hair, to which he always replied that Grandma got mad at him one day and pulled it out. We all learned a little German - “sprecken sie deutsch?” And we learned to dance a jig. And all of us at some point had a cowboy smoking a cigarette drawn on our bellies in ink pen.
Boomps loved children and we never knew a baby that wouldn’t go to him with a smile, including my own. My daughter, whose middle name is Rae, in honor of Boomps, took a hike down the lane with him nearly every day when she was little. He was one of her best buddies.
Boomps never met a stranger. He talked to everyone, asking question after question; he really wanted to know about people and cared where they came from and what they did. It didn’t matter if they were rich or poor, a banker or a janitor. He loved people and he found something interesting in everyone.
None of us will likely ever be as interesting again as we were to Boomps!
My family has written a book of reflections in the last few days. Here are two of them.
Grandson J: He’s everything we all aspire to be, from his warm smile and his wholehearted laugh to his uncanny ability to bring out the best in people. The first song he ever taught me was “You’re in the Army now! You’re not behind a plow! You’re diggin’ a ditch you son of a b**** you’re in the Army now!” I will do my best to become the kind of man he would be proud of.
Daughter R (my mother): Material things meant nothing to my dad. Only people mattered to him. Daddy was tolerant and forgiving of everyone – no criticism out of his mouth about anyone. He never made much money and luckily was married to a woman who could stretch a penny ‘til it squeaked. He never threw anything away, even empty cereal boxes and used Scot towels. When you saw Boomps, first you noticed the twinkle in his very blue eyes and then his smile. He was the genuine article. God only made one of him. The rest of us can only hope we watched and learned from him. He was showing us how to live every day of his life.
Boomps and my grandmother Charlotte had five children, 9 grandchildren, and (as of 2008) 7 great-grandchildren.
He didn’t leave a lot of material things behind. He did far better by us than that, for we are all so much richer for having been loved by him.
What do I want to say about Boomps? I want to say everything. But I could stand up here all day and you could each take a turn after me and there would be too much left unsaid.
So I will say that I love him so very much. And I will miss him sorely.
I see him turning back to look at us as he goes out the door, with his jacket on and his black fur hat; he grins and gives us a wink. “See ya later George!”
We miss you Boomps.
*Edited, a lot, for length.