Memorial for a Geekdad


I spent the weekend, a little while back, in Connecticut with my parents and aunts and uncles, to attend the memorial for my Grandfather.  He’d passed away a dozen days before, peacefully, in his sleep, after a notably good day.  He was 93.

His sons and daughter and their mates had all been out to visit him in the previous weeks, just to visit.  Though his health had had its ups and downs over the recent years, he had been holding steady, well cared-for in a nice retirement community, still in the area where he’d lived for the previous three decades and where he had intended to live out his days.  His passing was a surprise, but not surprising, and was perhaps the gentlest and kindest way a gentle and kind man could have decided to leave a life well-lived.

As part of the memorial, there was (as might be expected) much remembering of my grandfather; of a man of sly wit, quiet humor, steadfast devotion, and unassuming intelligence.  Indeed, he had held a PhD in Physics, but never asked to be called "Doctor."  There were remembrances of his career: a colleague who had worked with him for twenty years, from the forties to the sixties, brought with him the technical manual for a sophisticated materials-testing device they had designed and built back then, complete with pictures of a science fiction-looking rack of equipment full of knobs and lights, that would not have been out of place Dr. Strangelove.  His sons (my uncles) spoke about the ways their father had led them into a love of science, building home telescopes, griding lenses by hand to use in viewing the stars.  And I remembered receiving gifts from him myself in my childhood of things from the Edmund Scientific catalog.  Science had always been a theme in his life, and in the gifts he gave to others.

After the  service, in the common room of the little community church, people wandered about eating delicious cookies made by kind strangers, and chatting about my grandfather.  And it was then that it occurred to me in a blinding flash of the obvious:  he had been a Geekdad.  He had spent a life involved in science and technology, and in his own quiet, unassuming way, had taught his children and grandchild about the wonders of the universe and the power of seeking for the new.

And so, I thought it only fitting that in this community of Geekdads, with this audience of Geekdads, I should say a few words to remember a Geekdad who has left my life, but who will always be a part of it.  Goodbye, Grandpa, I’ll miss you.  And thanks.

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