Joseph Nicholas Weninger was my grandpa. My mom's dad. And the last few days we've been mourning his death and celebrating his life.
It's been so good to talk with my family about things we remember. I remember my grandpa and his overalls, and how he always had Tootsie Rolls for the grandkids. I remember sitting on his lap, and he'd hold my hands and clap them together, then he'd force my hands to miss, and he'd ask me, "Why'd you miss?" He loved to crack jokes and tease us, and I loved how he made Grandma laugh.
Grandpa was a fantastic game player. He played Cribbage all the time with my uncles. I've played Rummikub with him many, many times, and he had moves that were far beyond me. More than once he would take his first turn and lay out all of his tiles in one move, sometimes before I even had a turn! I loved playing Rummy Royale at the kitchen table. We're so competitive when we play cards, but we all have fun no matter how we're doing.
When I was a junior in high school, I got the part of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion. Grandma and Grandpa came to see one of the performances. I know they probably couldn't hear it very well, and they might not have really understood what was going on, but the fact that they drove more than an hour just to see my play meant so much to me.
Grandpa always drank water out of a jar with a handle. He loved to do crossword puzzles, and he loved to fish. I was amazed at some of the pictures I saw, because he caught some gigantic fish! He also had a saying: "It's better than ice cream!" It didn't matter what food was in question, or that I was a picky eater. It was always "better than ice cream."
I loved watching Grandma and Grandpa together. They were so sweet to each other. They raised 12 children together and had a long life together. They loved each other so much, even after more than 60 years of being married. They took care of each other. Grandpa constantly referred to Grandma as his bride, and I loved watching the little things they did for each other.
My grandpa was in the army in WW2. He served for two years, and I was so proud that his funeral reflected that. He was a dashing figure in his uniform. There's a lot of politics surrounding the army today, and people have really strong opinions about where our troops are and what they're fighting for. I don't always know how I feel about that, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am so proud and thankful that Grandpa served.
I'm going to really miss Grandpa. He was a wonderful man, and he gave me a wonderful family that I love very much.