My grandfather died last Thursday.

He was 81 and very sick with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  He is at peace and lived a very full, very happy life. But still. Sadness.

My grandfather got to know his 8 grandchildren well.  He remembered the unique things about each of us.

He taught me to shoot a BB gun.  And how to play croquet and horse shoes.  He would say “close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades!” each time we played.  He watched me swim at Dartmouth and thought I had Olympian speed at age 9.  He took me hiking and skiing and canoeing.  He let me rest, buy hot cocoa, and stop paddling whenever I wanted.

He was so proud of me for going to Wellesley but he hated Hillary because “she never wears a skirt.”  He liked that I liked Hillary and didn’t mind telling him.  He also liked that I got him My Father, My President signed by H.W. even though I would never read it myself.  He drove to DC to see where his “granddaughter who would change the world” was living after graduation.  He took the wrong exit onto the beltway and drove the whole way around.  He and my grandmother signed the guestbook at a rest stop in Manassas, VA.


Oliver M. Drown, 1927 - 2009

I got him a US flag that was flown over the Capitol building.  I registered him at the World War II memorial.  And gave him a tour of the new monument myself.  He liked Kevin and knew we were getting married, even though he would never understand what it was he did for work.  He never used a personal computer. Websites were beyond him.  He trusted me that I did something related to data, kind of like the stock market (but not at all like the stock market).

He came to my very last swim meet at Wellesley. It was winter.  He parked in the lot behind the sports complex and saw a fox on the soccer field before the meet.  He kept an eye on it and told my aunt to call Wellesley animal control because it hadn’t run away into the woods.  Animal control informed my family that it was a fake fox intended to keep other small animals off the soccer fields.  “Well, I’ll be damned!” he said.

I’m sad he’s gone, but I have my memories.  You should die when you’re old — after you’ve formed wonderful memories with special people who will greatly miss you.