Good Morning. I am Bud’s Granddaughter Melissa. Well, to him, I am Messy. On behalf of our family, I want to thank you for all the love, support and prayers you have given us during this difficult time. Your presence here today is a testament to who Grandaddy was.
I promise I won’t take too long because we all know that Grandaddy would want to move this along to get to the main event – the Famous Dave’s BBQ waiting for us downstairs.
But I have to be honest that I struggled to write this tribute. You all knew him so you know how incredible he was. How can I put into words all that he means to me, to all of you? This in no way encompasses everything about him but it is my small attempt to honor him. I hope he will be proud.
A couple of months ago, I was at a meeting and was asked who I admire most in the world. What a no-brainer because I admire Grandaddy. When asked why, 4 words came to mind: Service, Generosity, Humor and Love.
When he was 17, Grandaddy joined the United States Navy serving his country as a Radioman 3rd class during World War II. Later, he joined the Washington DC Metropolitan police department. After 25 years he retired as a sergeant from serving the city in which he was born.
This church was one of the biggest parts of Grandaddy’s life. He loved the community within it. He did everything around here – set up for mass, painted the rectory, counted the offerings, read at mass, was a Eucharistic minister. He was dedicated to this church and to his faith. As a matter of fact, I called him St. Francis sometimes. When the new pope was named, Grandaddy told me the pope called him to ask if he could use his name. Of course, Grandaddy said yes. So we now have Pope Francis. One of the things I will miss most is sitting in the 4th pew with Joan and Grandaddy and hearing him sing during mass. Over the past year, each time I heard his voice, I would thank God and pray I never forget the sound. He was so strong in his faith and truly believed he was going to a better place.
When I was in kindergarten, Santa came to visit us. I sat on his knee and told him what I wanted for Christmas. Years later, I learned that Santa was actually Grandaddy. Now the fact that he always walked into my parents house saying ho, ho, ho and that my brother Jay was his elf should have been my first two clues but how could I know the difference? As generous as Grandaddy was, of course I would mistake him for Santa. All of us would.
He not only gave to this church but he gave to the many charities in which he believed. But it was his family who received the bulk of his generosity. Need a car? Grandaddy was getting a new one anyway so here you go. Need a room painted or a leaky pipe looked at? Grandaddy would be right there. Your car caught fire at the inspection station? No worries, Grandaddy would give you a ride to the mechanic. And yes, that happened to me and no, it wasn’t a car Grandaddy had given me.
And he was hilarious. Hilarious but mischievous. When we were kids, I remember him hiding behind clothes racks at Hecht’s and jumping out to spray my brother with ladies perfume. Wow, did they smell! And he would tell stories about when he was in the Navy but sometimes you wouldn’t get the ending because he would get that twinkle in his eye and say, “no, better keep that one to myself”. And he loved to talk about his trips to Myrtle Beach – particularly the one when bike week happened. He said there were lots of fights and bikes. Actually, the last thing he said to my boyfriend Todd on Easter was, when you get back from vacation; drive that motorcycle over so you can take me for a ride. But make sure you are careful when my granddaughter is on the back!
Grandaddy loved life. He loved going to the horse races and card games with his buddies Charlie, John and others. He loved animals – Spot, the beagle he had when I was a kid, Pretty Boy, Uncle Johnny’s bird, my pups Stella and Sophie and Honey, the dog Joan brought into his life. He loved Honey so much he would floss her teeth. And he loved to eat his evening ice cream with her. Joan spoiled them both.
Grandaddy loved the water – going crabbing, body surfing, and riding a big tube behind a motor boat. As one of Joan’s son-in-laws shared with me – they had an outing on the water one day and had to ask Grandaddy to get out of the raft so the kids could have a chance to ride.
And Grandaddy loved food. Not only to eat it but to prepare it. He made the best homemade crab cakes, French fries, and chicken soup. I remember going to the Chesapeake Bay Seafood house as a kid and watching him eat his weight in all you can eat crab legs. And later, we would go to the Drift Inn where he and my mom could pick crabs for hours. And never get between him and his hot dogs with mustard and onions on 4th of July! Joan can tell you cooking for him was one of her great joys because he just loved to eat. Of course, she kept him healthy so when we would go to IHOP after church he would ask for 2 orders of crispy bacon since he didn’t have that at home. And she never said a word. I will miss making his favorite pie – mince meat – this Christmas.
But what granddaddy loved more than anything was… us. He was devoted to Anne, Grammie, and cared for her until her last days with us. He never complained – not one time. She was his first angel and they taught us what the word commitment means – in sickness and in health; for better or for worse.
He loved taking care of his kids. My mom, Grace, my late uncle Johnny, Aunt Mary and my dad. There was nothing they needed that he wouldn’t do. When dad went to Vietnam, mom had to move back home. She told granddaddy she was in labor one day and, after showering and shaving, he took her to the hospital and waited for Jay to be born. Now I know mom could have done without waiting for him to primp but… he did get her there in time.
And he was a great grandfather. He adored Grayson, Tyler, Sam and Ben. He was so proud of each of you. And I know you loved him just as much. And that pride extended to Joan’s grandkids as well.
When Grammie passed away 9 years ago, despite the fact that Uncle Johnny lived with him, we wondered how Grandaddy would move on. And as Joan says that is when her Frank and Bud’s Ann got together in Heaven and told the Lord it was time to bring these two crazy kids together. And so one day, on the steps of this church, Grandaddy asked Joan on a date. Less than 6 months later they were married. Joan, if it weren’t for you and your dedication to Grandaddy, I know we would have lost him years ago. It is because of you that we were able to enjoy these last years with him. He loved the simply silly fun you had together each day. Thank you for the gift you have been to us. And thank you for again teaching us what the words in sickness and in health truly mean.
And so Grandaddy was given his second angel, Joan. And with her came a big family. He loved each of you as if you were his own. He was so proud of all that you are. Thank you for loving him back.
And then there were his grandkids, me and Jay. I cannot describe the feeling that comes over me when I think of Grandaddy. Quite frankly, he hung the moon. I’m not sure how Christmas will come this year – I’ve never known one without him - He is my Santa Claus. He spoiled me rotten and made me laugh. He is one of the greatest men I have ever known.
I’m lucky, you know? The last thing my grandfather said to me, was “I love you, Baby”. I will always have that. And he loved each of you. His country, his community, his family and God. That is who my grandfather was. A man of service, generosity, love and humor. And the most beautiful baby blue eyes you have ever seen, which he thankfully passed on to me.
My grandfather died a happy man, a blessed man. And I hate to lose him. But I know he is here, with each of us. How do I know that? Because he taught me faith.