18 Clocks and a Remarkable Life Lived

Gramps was able to see places in the world that most only dream of.

Apologies, readers and friends, if I haven’t been my usually bubbly self on the book of face and other media of the social variety. To be honest, the last 23 hours have been an emotional roller coaster. Saturday morning was incredible. I spent the morning with my girlfriend. Won a bottle lottery from Watershed Distillery, hit the amazing The Butcher and Grocer, and watched the Buckeyes trounce Xichigan State while we had a rather intense Azul battle. It was a good day.

On the way home, I stopped at my favorite LGS and had pack wars with my friend Tim. That was followed by dinner with my roomie and a few episodes of Repair Shop.

Then came the phone call. I knew it wasn’t good. A phone call in the days of texting is seldom a harbinger of glad tidings. This call was no exception to that rule.

My Gramps had passed. Sometime in between the hourly checks, he had decided it was time to go be with my Grammy.

I have run the range of emotions in the last 23 hours. And I don’t expect things will settle just yet. You see, I live in his house. The conditions leading to that are a story for another time, or maybe not, but they bear little significance to this piece. This house has memories going back to the earliest memories of my childhood that I can actually still recall. My brother wisely observed this evening that he didn’t know if it would be easier living here because Gramps was everywhere in this house or harder living here because Gramps was everywhere in this house.

Both, I told him. It was both.

This house was the inspiration for the book 18 Clocks. When I first moved in a few years ago, there was at least one clock in every room of this house. All set to different times. Not a single one was the same make or model or type. And all of them were stopped. On a flight to Long Island, the idea hit me for a time-travel book. Those clocks were the key. I started writing it. I wanted to find a way to incorporate all of my Gramps’ stories within the book. All the places he had been. All the adventures he had. Quite a few more than a typical CPA, I’d wager. The story stalled. I never finished it before Gramps got a chance to read it. I’ll finish it one day. It may not be the story I imagined. And I won’t get to hand him a printed copy of the book, but I have a feeling he’ll know and be proud of it all the same.

Gramps was 97 years old. I was talking with my GF last night of all of the incredible things he must’ve seen in nearly a century on this earth. Things I couldn’t even imagine. I think about life before the internet, but Gramps knew of life before space-flight. Life before a polio vaccine. Growing up the same time as a new medium called television. Witnessing one world war and fighting in another. Meeting the Pope and having him step out of the Pope-mobile to give him a personal blessing of a “long and healthy life.”

It certainly was that.

I used to go nearly every week and share a Wendy’s Frosty with my Gramps. The visits would be short. Never lasting more than 20 minutes, but in that time he would always tell me a story of a trip. Or someone he had met. Or an interesting fact about the house or one of the many amazing artifacts from one of his trips. It was something I cherished. Something the pandemic stripped from me. I hadn’t seen Gramps since March. I doubt I will be able to eat a Frosty again without thinking of those visits.

I’m still processing things. Funerals and memorials in the time of COVID are different. Grief is forced to wear a mask. Condolences come from at least 6 feet away. But for right now, I’m OK. Mom is OK. Gramps lived a good life. And he passed peacefully. He didn’t spend his last moments on a ventilator. He just took a little nap, and woke up somewhere else.

I love you Gramps.

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