This past Friday, my family lost an incredible person--my grandfather, Ted Turek, known affectionately to me and my siblings as "Grampa." He most often called me "Emly," omitting the second syllable of my name, one of his many "Grampa-isms." If he wasn't calling me "Emly," it was "Em" or "gal," an endearing term he used for me, my sister, my family's dog Xena, and women in general. It's not a word heard much these days, which made it all the more charming.
Grampa could charm people anywhere he went. I remember him telling us that his high school superlative was "Can out-talk any woman." He proved that time and time again, engaging in lengthy conversations with his family, my friends, my parents' friends, friends of my brother and sister, my dad's side of the family, and oftentimes complete strangers.
Grampa especially had a knack for charming waitresses. Any time we went out to dinner, he went out of his way to ask the waitress's name. He typically would visit my family during our week-long stay in Sebago, Maine each summer. We would always go out to dinner on one of the nights he was there, and our waitresses would remember him each summer, even though they'd only see him once a year. I attribute that partly to his charm and partly to his booming voice.
My dad always said that Grampa could give a sermon at church without a microphone, and that was no exaggeration. He also had a loud, contagious laugh. Watching HIM watch "All in the Family" was as entertaining as the show itself. He'd roar with laughter and often say "I've never seen this one!" (We knew he had, in fact, seen the episode before but appreciated how he'd laugh as though it were the first time, every time.)
While Grampa did get a kick out of Archie Bunker, there was another Archie who he loved much more--my family's late beloved golden retriever. Grampa's "Pal," as he nicknamed him, didn't greet *anyone* the way that he greeted Grampa. He would run around in circles with a shoe in his mouth, making crazy, high-pitched noises, hardly giving Grampa the chance to get in the door. Grampa would spoil Archie and our other dog, Xena, always bringing them "snacks" when he came to visit. If we had pie and ice cream for "dee-zert," as Grampa called it, Archie would be under the table nudging him. He knew that he was going to coerce Grampa into giving him the plate to lick when he was finished, not that there'd be much left on it since Grampa rarely left anything on his plate.
One of Grampa's famous expressions was, "My stomach is touching my backbone," which we all knew meant that he was getting hungry. Every time he had dinner over our house, he would thank my mom afterwards and give her a kiss on the cheek. Aside from my mom's cooking, another of Grampa's favorite foods was pizza. He was a pizza connoisseur and went to a different pizza place every Friday night with his "kid sisters," as he referred to them.
Family was more important to Grampa than anything. He loved his siblings and children, as well as his grandchildren. When my siblings and I were little, the highlight of Grandma and Grampa's weekend visit was being chauffered to school by Grampa on Monday morning. We got to ride in the backseat of his station wagon, which we thought was the best thing ever. Grampa gave us many rides as kids not only in his station wagon, but in his big metal canoe with an attached motor up in Maine. We would get antsy waiting for the battery to be charged and the canoe to be lugged down to the shoreline, but in the end the relaxing ride along the lake was always worth the wait.
I am blessed to have had Grampa in my life for almost 31 years. I appreciate everything he did for me, from helping me move into my freshman dorm, to sending the most heartfelt birthday cards every year (made even nicer by his flawless handwriting), to often picking up a kielbasa from Czapiga's for me (well, the whole family, but he knew I liked it the most out of everyone.)
Love you always, Grampa!
Tuesday June 26, 2018 at 3:39 am