A Tribute

Many of you already knew this, but my grandpa passed away recently – a month ago today, actually.  I miss him like crazy and find myself thinking about him a lot.  He was a very special guy.

Leigh and Grandpa P

Grandpa and me a few Christmases back.

I wanted to share a sort of tribute I wrote for him that was read at his memorial service.  My brother wrote one as well.  It was fun to hear his memories….there was definitely some crossover (particularly in the food and phone call department), but he had his own unique experiences with Grandpa that left an imprint on his life.

It got a bit long-winded, but I couldn’t help it.  There was just so MUCH to say, and so much to remember.  I’m thankful we all have that MUCH from him….it definitely brings comfort as we grieve.

I hope this paints a picture of the wonderful, kind, goofy, patient, “opinionated” (in the most easy-going way 🙂 ), independent, generous, brave, and all-around A-#1 grandpa he was.  I was, I am, incredibly lucky.

And here, a tribute:

The world lost a very special man this week, my beloved Grandpa Dick.

As far as grandpas go….well, he was just the greatest.  I know a lot of kids/adults say that about their grandparents, but I think I really won the jackpot with Grandpa Dick.

As our family rallied over the past few difficult days, we have comfort and light in knowing how blessed we are to have had him in our lives and what a legacy he left with us.  We have been able to laugh, cry, remember, recount, and reflect on the way he shaped our own lives, and the life he so very admirably lived.

There are so many memories of him….here are some of my favorites:

  • I was always in awe that Grandpa could play the piano by ear, without reading music.
  • As a kid, teasing him with how much Miracle Whip I slathered on my sandwiches.  He absolutely could not STAND Miracle Whip or mayo and was so repulsed by how much I used.
  • Grandpa “said” he didn’t like cats, particularly mine….but I think deep down he really had an affinity for felines.
  • He had four grandkids – I was his “best friend,” my brother was his “best buddy,” and my twin cousins were his “best pals.”
  • Sometimes we’d call each other Fred for no good reason.
  • Grandpa’s infamously short phone calls.  He was not a chatty phone guy – a typical call was about three or four minutes.  I had bragging rights with a conversation over five minutes, and felt like I conquered the world with anything in the (gasp) double digits.  That was rare.
  • The cookware set Grandpa sent me when I lived in my first on-campus apartment in college.  I can remember the note he enclosed in the box – something like “they’re not much, they’re just from K-Mart, but I thought you might need these to make dinner.”  That set followed me for years.
  • The weekly lunches at Traveler’s and Saturday breakfasts at Jan’s when I lived in Alexandria for a year.  How lucky I was to live in the same town as all of my grandparents for a while.
  • The disposable cameras he was always trying to “use up.”
  • Meeting our family at IHOP….lunch was Grandpa’s treat.  He always ordered the 2-2-2.  He liked Perkins too.
  • Grandpa was quite particular about his food, and rarely did anything receive much more than a “So-so” or “Fair” review.  And he always only took a half cup of coffee, so it stayed hot while he drank it.
  • A lot of food references here….but trips to the Dairy Queen.  Grandpa’s Buster Bars.
  • Grocery shopping with him and the cart full of doughnut holes, peanut M&Ms, mini Nestle chocolate bars, ice cream drumsticks, frozen Jimmy Dean sausage/bacon sandwiches….God bless the 85-year old diabetic who doesn’t care what he eats.

I could go on and on, but then the favorites would become everything.

As a kid, visiting Grandpa Dick and Grandma Joey’s house at 1405 Bryant Street was a wonderland.  I was so, SO excited to stay with them over summer vacations and winter breaks.  I remember crying as we drove down the entrance ramp to I-94 when it was time to meet my parents halfway and go home to Eden Prairie.

We played countless games of Yahtzee, Rack-o, Sorry, and Crazy Eights.  We stayed up late.  We made Root Beer Floats.  We ate doughnuts in the morning.  We went to Dairy Queen for treats.  We went to the pet shop and looked at the cute animals.  We went to the hospital and looked at babies in the nursery – when you could still do that.  We played rolls on the player piano.  We went to brunch after Sunday church.  We drove around the lakes.  We read books.  We looked at old pictures.  We fed the ducks at Noonan’s Park.  I tagged along for their couples golf nights.

Nothing about these visits was particularly extravagant, action-packed, or even all that original.  The things we did were really quite ordinary….the kinds of things that grandparents and grandkids do.  But they were so very special, and to my little girl self, at the time, they meant the world.  And still do.  I am thankful every day to look back and have those memories and they will always stay so close to my heart.  I am blessed to have had a Grandpa Dick and Grandma Joey give so much of themselves to me, for me.

And that was just Richard Plachecki as GRANDPA.  I haven’t even scratched the surface of what an incredible man he was in the many other roles he played in his life.

I know he’s watching over all of us now….with his half-cup of coffee and a plate of doughnut holes, and Grandma Joey by his side.  I am thankful they are reunited – it’s where he’s meant to be.

Rest in peace, my beloved Grandpa Dick.


4 Comments on “A Tribute”

  1. I guess I shouldn’t have read this at work–tearing up in your cubicle isn’t exactly encouraged. My mom’s dad was the only grandpa I remember anything about. (I had three, including my “American” grandpa in Iowa). And what do I remember about him? Even though we didn’t speak a common language, he had a weird nickname for me, walked me to kindergarten, watched Barney and Punky Brewster with me, and most importantly, bought me Skor bars at the local Spur gas station. I find it comforting that your memories are also centered around treats. I’m also a little envious that you could have 5-minute conversations and understand each other. : )

    It’s extremely sad whenever someone passes away, but I sort of have to believe that they are in a happy place in heaven, patiently waiting for a reunion. Peace to you.

  2. yennilb says:

    What a lovely tribute to your grandpa. Thanks for sharing! He sounds like such a wonderful guy:)

  3. Mummy says:

    Ahhh, Leigh, it brings me comfort to know that Grandpa lives on through your wonderful memories of him. You were fortunate to live in the same town for a while when Grandpa was able to meet you for lunch and was still quite active. I miss him every day and always will. xoxoxo

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