On Wednesday September 2nd 2009 one of the greatest men I've ever known passed away. My maternal Grandfather taught me much in this life and I was privileged to have almost 40 years of life with him in it.
My first memories of Grandpa Sam are of his house with Grandma. His house was clean and we were always asked to behave and be as quiet as possible. I would sit at my father's feet while the adults discussed things I couldn't grasp. Later I would understand that they were talking about family and life in general.
When I was a little older, Grandpa had a cabin on Chautauqua Lake in Upstate NY. We would visit him on weekends in the summer and the highlight of the visit was always fishing. There were two places to fish, the dock and from the boat. Here Grandpa could teach us important life lessons. The first was patience (you can't fish if you don't have patience). Here also we learned about how to catch fish. We were introduced to some of Grandpa's greatest one liners. For example we couldn't catch a thing unless we started out by reciting Grandpa's fishing call. "HERE FISHIE, FISHIE, FISHIE!" The trick to this call was to go as deep as possible with your voice. The deeper your voice the larger the fish we would catch. The second lesson learned was how to properly bait a hook with a worm. Grandpa would always remind us to bite the head off the worm before putting it on the hook. You were guaranteed to catch a fish if you bit the head off.
On a more serious note, there is one experience with my Grandpa that taught me the importance of respecting women and my mom more importantly. We were at my Grandpa's house. He had a miniature pool table and I was always playing on it. Well my mom decided it was time to go and called us to get in the car. I was probably 9 or 10 and told my mom I would be out when I finished my game. Quick as lightening my Grandpa's hand seized my wrist and in his sternest voice told me "When your mother says it's time to go, you go." I learned that day how important respect for mothers and women was and have tried to live my life in the same way.
Grandpa loved to golf. When I was a teenager I spent several rounds on the links with him. We would talk about life and golf. It was a great time. I got to know not only my Grandpa, but also his friends and family because of the stories he would tell me. I learned how important family is during this time. I also learned some secrets to golf. Like Grandpa's famous "Ancient Chinese Secret" to golf: "He who play peekie-peekie, play lousy golf."
Grandpa loved to laugh. He would laugh at life, jokes and the ironic. His laugh was contagious. I enjoyed hearing it and it will be one of the things I miss. To me Grandpa will always be swinging a golf club or taking a fish off a hook.
I said before that Grandpa is one of the greatest men I know. Really he is one of the two men who have greatly influenced my life (the other being my father). I hope that I am living up to the example he set for me.
My Grandfather will be greatly missed by me. I will never fish or golf without thinking about him. I will not look at my family without thinking if I am living up to the example he has set. I hope that I can impart the stories of my Grandpa to my children and grandchildren and that they will be able to learn as much from him as I have. Hit 'em straight Grandpa, I will see you again.