Farewell, Grandpa Charlie

Less than two years ago, my family said farewell to Grandpa Geerling. Just a few days ago, my Grandfather on my mother's side passed away.

Grandpa Charlie

He was a humble man. Grandpa won't be mentioned in history books. He didn't do anything incredible in the world's eyes, but he was a great family man and role model.

Grandpa helped my Grandma (who is a saintly woman in her own right, and still with us, thanks be to God!) raise six girls in a modest home, with a modest sheet metal worker's salary. I can only imagine what it must've been like to come home to a wife and six lively daughters every day!

He also helped care for Nana, my great grandmother, for many years. She was another beautiful woman, though I only knew her for a short time (mostly through baking chocolate chip cookies with her!).

Whenever someone needed assistance in repairing something, or needed a specialized tool, Grandpa was there to help. He helped my brother repair a headlight motor mount on his Firebird, and helped my sister with a new sheet metal duct for her microwave.

He sang with the vigor of an Irish tenor, in his parish choir, around the home, and for our entire family at many events. He led us in prayer and in music, even late into his life. When his voice became too weak to sing, his daughter Ellen would raise up her own beautiful voice to continue the tune.

He made a good friend in Joey, a man with a mental disability. He would take Joey to lunch, bring him to family events, and let him share in the joys and love of our extended family.

He would go to Mass at Marygrove every Saturday (until he was unable to attend due to a knee injury), and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd who resided there could count on Grandpa to proclaim the readings whenever another lector was not present.

He had a beautiful fedora hat with a small feather, and he'd wear it in the proper way. He would let his grandchildren—and great grandchildren—play with the hat, touch the feather, wear it on their heads, and feel the smooth hat band.

He took coffee at the end of every meal. Sometimes at the beginning, too, so he could dunk his french fries, his chicken strips, his donut... anything that fit the brim of his mug was fair game for dunking.

He had the world's largest dictionary (as far as the grandkids knew), and it was always handy by his chair at the table. Perched atop was his word-of-the-day calendar, proclaiming "cerebral", "flue", "hirsute"—or, on the day he died, "hew."

hew \HYOO\
1: to cut or fell with blows (as of an ax)
2: to give shape to with or as if with an ax
3: to conform or to adhere

"Hew", because we are now hewn from his enlivening presence and strong love. "Hew" also, as he hewed to all the great traditions of familial love and strong fatherhood. He loved his Church and his country, but most especially his wife, his children, his family, and God.

These are a few of the things I know of Grandpa Charlie.

Jeff and Grandpa Charlie

Grandpa, you were an inspiration. You devoted your life to your family and brightened everyone's day. I pray that you may have quick passage into Heaven so you can meet those who have inspired you, and be in peaceful and eternal rest.

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace. Amen.

This Bud's for You, Grandpa

My Grandpa Geerling was a very ordinary man. He lived in a simple split-level with a loving wife, and raised nine children while working at a union job.

He loved golf, he loved tools, he loved his children, grandchildren, and more recently, great grandchildren. He had a strong faith that he proclaimed in word and deed throughout his life to all his friends and family—even especially when they needed it most.

He drank Bud Light, and always had golf, racing, football, baseball, or hockey on the TV—unless his team was losing.

His name won't be in any songs, nor will he have a page remembering him on Wikipedia. The world won't remember him—but he didn't have his eyes set on worldly recognition.

My grandparents, dancing

He devoted his life to his wife and children. He was always happy when someone would visit and talk sports, religion, politics, or kitchen remodeling. He was glad to loan out his tools to anyone who asked (and boy, did we ask!), and was always generous in sharing the modest possessions he had.

Last October, I noticed that his entire family—my aunts, uncles and cousins from out of town, his brothers and sisters, his wife, his many grandchildren and great grandchildren—came to support him in his final hours on this earth. He couldn't make his holy hour of adoration, so one of his sons made sure to go and be with Jesus in the Eucharist during that time. He couldn't speak the words of the Rosary audibly, but that didn't mean his family didn't.

He couldn't tell his wife, his brothers and sisters, his sons and daughters, his grandchildren and great grandchildren, to come together and visit him, but also connect with each other one last time before his death. But we did.

At the funeral, as I looked around, I saw doctors, musicians, programmers, writers, members of the armed forces, beautiful families, and many precious children (one of them my own, inside my wife's belly). And I know that my grandfather wasn't a 'great man' of worldly acclaim. But his legacy will make this world a greater place.

He and his wife have spent their lives devoted to their faith and family, and their family was there at the end to support him, as he went to visit God. I pray that he will join the choirs of angels in Heaven, and be united with God eternally. He was a humble man, and he would want me to tell you to pray for him, too. Nobody can pass judgement but God, and nobody can know a man's soul as God did. Everyone needs prayers after they die, even a man of great faith like my grandfather.

On his deathbed, one of my aunts asked him if he wanted anything—something to drink or eat. One of his last words to his children, "I'll take a Bud Light."

Dear Grandpa Geerling, this Bud's for you:

Bud Light for Grandpa Geerling


As many of my colleagues mourn the death of a great tech icon, Steve Jobs, I pray for his soul, and hope (sincerely) that he makes it to Heaven. For all his flaws, he was a good neighbor, an optimist, a great strategist, an opponent of pornography, and he built up the tech industry in ways the future history books will show.

Steve Jobs

Much of my life has been lived along with products created or conceived by Steve himself (see my ongoing computing history here), and my current profession would be nowhere near as interesting as it is without his continual push towards extending the reach of technology into my life.

Through it all, we must remember what Steve (as well as many before him) has pointed out:

Once you realize the death is a part of life, you will live life more fully.

In other words,

"For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it"
(1 Timothy 6:7).

I'm going to be reading Steve Jobs (the authorized biography) when it is released on October 24, 2011. I enjoyed reading iWoz, which spoke to much of Apple's successes in the engineering field, but the design and strategy aspects of Apple's success will likely be covered in-depth in this book.

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