I recently lost my grandfather. That’s not funny, but he was. The ability to Find the Funny in life is a family trait that stemmed from Grandpa. He loved a good, clean joke. He loved puns. He loved to laugh and to make people laugh.
Every new generation of grandchildren gave him a new audience who’d never heard his corny jokes and puns. One of his favorites was to mention a henway. Your response was supposed to be “What’s a henway?” His answer: “Oh about three pounds.”
He saw a lot of bad in his lifetime… The Depression, losing his father at an early age, World War II, but he didn’t dwell on those things. He chose to look at life through his sense of humor. He was more than just funny. He was a sailor, a business owner, a husband, father, and grandfather (add great and great-great to this list) and a master woodworker. He could build anything and he could fix anything. My grandparents never had a repairman in their house.
He raised a son and daughter who are each funny in their own right, but if you get them together, you’d better be wearing your adult diapers. ‘Cause you’re gonna laugh until you pee.
His name was Paul and he owned a business called Anchor. Many people assumed his name was Paul Anchor. When I was in high school, I told a friend about the Paul Anchor thing, which unfortunately sounds a lot like Paul Anka (if you’re young or don’t remember, he was a singer back in my day). I got a lot of teasing about my grandfather singing the song, You’re Having My Baby.
Grandpa sold and repaired televisions and other electronics. In his spare time, he loved to watch tv. In a time when most homes had one tv, maybe two, my grandfather had them all over the house including his garage and the bathroom.
I moved in with my grandparents when I was 14. Can you imagine a worse time to take in a stray child than at 14 years of age? They were there through all of the angry, hormonal years and never drove me out to the woods to release me back to the wild. With apologies to my husband and children, my grandparents were the best thing that ever happened to me.
When I married my husband Joe, he and my grandfather spent a lot of time together. So much so that my kids starting calling their great-grandfather, “Joe’s friend Grandpa.” He told Joe to call him Paul but Joe kept calling him Grandpa. Eventually, Grandpa realized that Joe needed a grandfather more than he needed a friend. From then on, he referred to Joe as his grandson. That’s the kind of guy he was.
He lived to see his children retire and his oldest grandchild turn gray-haired, but he wasn’t your typical old man. After Katrina, when he was 80 years old, he drove down to the coast of Mississippi to offer hurricane relief. And I’m not talking about handing out blankets and bottled water. He went into flooded homes, ripped out carpet and sheetrock and carried them out on his own back.
Since his passing, people have shared their memories of my grandfather. While many were of him being a mentor, or an inspiration, most were about his sense of humor. He was still joking right up to the end. When the nurses came into his room to check his mental status they’d ask his name and date of birth, then they’d ask if he knew where he was. Every single time he’d say, “Yep, I’m right here!”
A few years ago I told Grandpa that I had a good pun for his funeral. He said “Don’t be in too big of a hurry to use it!” I told him what it was. He laughed and gave his approval. So, with his permission, here it is… No one would appreciate more than my grandfather that the pall bearers at his funeral were actually “Paul” bearers.