All of these men died too young.
I wonder who we would be if they hadn’t.
My Grandpa Weigold, uncle Don and my dad, Herb, playing cards and smoking pipes in grandpa’s kitchen some time before 1961.
If Grandpa hadn’t died a couple of weeks after I was born, he would have gone on farming. As it is, Grandma Weigold hired another local farmer to till the fields. But have to wonder what it would have been like to have another man, a lifelong farmer, around to show me what he thought was important in the world.
Uncle Don went next, when I was five, I think. I remember him as playful and somehow kind of glamorous. He left a beautiful wife and three daughters behind.
His passing kicked my mother’s casual thoughts about going to college into high gear. The story goes that she and Dad figured that her having an education was the best insurance they could buy. There weren’t many good options for women to make money in rural Indiana. She went over to Saint Francis, took advantage of late registration, and started her path to teaching.
My dad. It’s so sad in some ways. I can barely imagine the world with him in it anymore. He died when I was 29 and still an undergrad at UCLA. Late bloomers run in the family, what can I say?
I wonder if he and Mom would have taken each grandchild on an international trip, like my mom did on her own. I wonder if he would be one of the happy regulars on the beach down in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca every winter.
I’m pretty sure he’d still be meeting friends for breakfast every day. Clyde’s in Wolf Lake burned down years ago, but I’ll bet they’d have found a new place to meet. I probably owe my diner and coffee house habit to his example.
I imagine that there would have been some times I was angry with him, and some times when he delivered the best advice ever, preceded by, “I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but…”
When he said that, it wasn’t some verbal trap. He really meant it. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but here are my thoughts.
We can never know what influences are missing from our lives, how big or little the differences might have been. What if my Grandpa Best hadn’t died at 51, a decade before I was born?
I’m missing all these men, both long gone and more recently passed, today. I didn’t get enough of any of them.