Eulogy, by proxy
My grandfather taught me many things. He taught me how to sink a putt and hit a drive. To play blackjack and shoot craps, and that if you say something often and loudly, people will believe it’s true. He taught me a million bad jokes and one or two good ones, how to check the pressure of a tire and build a house out of playing cards. He taught me to never under-eat and always over-tip, that it’s possible for one old man to know every single person at a woman’s basketball game. Most of all, he taught me that the world is full of people waiting for someone to take an interest in them, to ask how they are doing and mean it sincerely.
He was a man who greeted anyone and everyone with a smile and a joke. He was on a first name basis with the entire Hartford area, and on pretty good terms with the rest of the world besides. He always knew whose mother was sick and whose wife was having a baby, and there never was a pretty waitress or mean old croupier he couldn’t make smile, even before he started tipping, which he did enthusiastically and often.
He believed, as we all know we should but sometimes cannot, that there is nothing more valuable than human connection, even if it’s only for the space of a quick word and a handshake. People loved him not because he was charming or funny or smart or kind—though he was all those things and more—but because they knew that he loved them back, deeply and unconditionally.