Good afternoon. My name is Jordan Sadler and I would like to say a few words in celebration of the life of my grandfather.
In recent years, I have gained an appreciation of the fact that I am the eldest of Roy and Dot’s 9 grandchildren. This is not because I have reaped any special benefits or felt favored in some way, but simply because I have been so incredibly fortunate to have these particular grandparents in my life for nearly 40 years.
With each stage in life, I’ve come to perceive and appreciate my grandparents in new ways. Perhaps this is universal. In the earliest years, they were the fun-loving people who took me to Mountain Park, spent special time with me at their house on Cape Cod complete with very complicated breakfasts on the deck, hosted fabulous holidays filled with treats, and surprised me on Halloween by arriving at my house in Hartford dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big, Bad Wolf.
Later, in my busier teenage years, they were the devoted grandparents cheering me on from the audience at every event, from school plays to choir solos at church. They took care of us when my parents had to be away, and enjoyed many adventures – and maybe a few misadventures – with us. At every turn, they went above and beyond the call of duty for their family and friends, everywhere they went. I am certain everyone in this room knows exactly what I mean by that.
As I entered adulthood and started to see the older adults around me in a new light, I began to view my grandparents as separate people. You see, I believe I saw them as a single entity for all those years growing up. In fact, the first time I saw Papa without Grandma was one weekend when I was in my mid-20s. Grandma attended a WAVES convention in Boston and Papa stayed at Joyce’s house, so I took the bus down to Plymouth from graduate school for the weekend and joined them.
I was struck by a couple of surprising things that weekend. First of all, it turned out that my grandfather was incredibly lonely without my grandmother, and missed her a great deal, right from the moment she left. He spoke about her non-stop, talking to me for hours about the trips they’d taken all over the world and the volunteer work she was doing at the time in Springfield. This was the first time I realized that he wasn’t nearly as quiet as I’d previously believed, and also that his world truly revolved around Grandma in a way I hadn’t understood. I discovered it didn’t matter that they disagreed sometimes and even bickered about small matters, like driving directions. In fact, they were true partners. I like to think of them as a matched set. I didn’t see them apart again for many years and that was just the way they liked it.
Last Saturday evening, I stood next to Papa in the Emergency Room. He was very ill, and confused about where he was and what was happening to him. I tried to talk quietly about a variety of things that might soothe him, to no avail. Finally, I sat next to him and told him that everyone in the family wanted him to feel better. One by one, I named my grandmother, all four of his children, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Papa immediately turned toward me with complete, rapt attention. His eyes focused on me as he listened. He smiled, hearing the names of his beloved family, and was visibly more relaxed.
We remember and celebrate so much about my grandfather’s life here today: his fabulous sense of humor, his bright and inquisitive mind, his enormous dedication to the success of the Red Sox, and the sweet, quiet manner he had that made everyone who met him adore and respect him. But what stands out most to me was my grandfather’s love and strong sense of loyalty for everyone in his family, and most especially his unwavering love for my grandmother.
We will all grieve this heartbreaking loss in our own ways, and there is no right or wrong way to do so. I know that we will also honor Papa’s memory throughout our lives in very individual ways. But what I hope for most of all as I stand here today is that in some way, every day, each one of us will honor my grandfather’s memory by finding the integrity, generosity, love, and devotion inside ourselves and sharing it freely with Grandma, each other, and everyone around us. Because this is what would make him happiest of all.
May it be so.
August 27, 1919 – January 25, 2010