Let me give you a few facts about my Grandpa. His name is Wallace but people call him Wally.
He raised six incredible daughters - he toasted five at their weddings, and watched one take her vows as a nun. He has twelve grandchildren, five - soon to be six - great-grandchildren, and he was married to my grandmother for over 50 years. He was a pilot for the Army Air Corp in WWII and won The Distinguished Flying Cross...more than once. He remembers birthdays, cracks jokes, and is more often than not pulling your leg about something.
When I think of my Grandpa I don't think of his "stats." I think of visiting him in the house in Ohio where my grandparents lived - with the big front porch, and long driveway. I think of him smiling at me when I was finally old enough to sit on the ledge of that front porch - you couldn't sit on the ledge until you were old enough, it was a big deal - and the day I could finally do it I just sat there grinning at him.
I think of Grandpa imitating the cuckoo clock in the front room of that same house, and him winking as he slipped me candy when my parents weren't looking. I remember fluffy beds and comfy couches and when he wanted to wake us up as teenagers, instead of the tired routine of pounding on our bedroom doors, he would put John Phillips Sousa on his record player, blast it through his huge speakers, and then just smile at us as we stumbled downstairs.
I think of my niece's first birthday party when he got down on the floor with her as she opened her gift from him. When my brother offered to help him up, Grandpa scoffed and said, "what like I'm 88 or something!"
I think of how fabulous my mom and all my aunts are and how wonderful he is to have raised such strong, competent, women.
I think of dancing with him at our wedding, and telling him he was a much better dancer than my new husband and my dad. My mom later told me he bragged about that to his friends.
I try to imagine all the things he's seen or done or heck, even forgotten in his ninety years and I'm just...in awe. This man is incredible and the world is a better place with him in it.
I'm proud to be a part of his legacy.
Happy Birthday Grandpa. You're my hero.