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Love you, Grandpa

July 21, 2011

A time-out from babies and cooking to honor one of the best men I ever knew:  my grandpa, John T. “Jack” McNally, Sr., who died on July 11.  The details of his life are here.  This is what I will remember about him and pass on to my babies:

  • his love of children:  Many pictures from my childhood show him holding one of his grandchildren or playing with them–really the quintessential grandpa.  One of his greatest joys of the past two years was being around my niece, his first great-grandchild.
  • his sense of humor: making fun of his baldness by asking us for our hair ribbons, wearing a musical tie at Christmas, teasing us to get us to smile, laughing at his own jokes.
  • his love of the Navy:  I will always remember visiting the submarine museum in Groton, CT, where he showed me in a cross-section of a submarine like his (the USS Sea Lion) where he worked–the radio room–and where he slept–over a torpedo.  He wore his sub vets hat, jacket, and pins with great pride in having served his country.
  • his sense of service:  my great-aunts, his neighbors, my grandma’s friends–they all adored him.  He epitomized chivalry, always helping these older ladies with plumbing or yardwork or other “manly” tasks.  Being in the Navy and volunteering with veterans’ associations also stemmed from his deep feeling of obligation to the greater community.
  • his athleticism:  a hockey player, football player, baseball catcher, skiier, swimmer, tennis player and line judge.  He came to many of our soccer games, volleyball matches, tennis matches, baseball games…He also loved dancing, which I heard about in stories my mom told about polkas in the kitchen, and which I saw in action at our wedding reception.
  • his love of family:  every time we saw him, we’d be greeted with a bear hug and a 500-watt smile that showed his delight.  So many memories from my childhood involve family get-togethers:  vacations at the Cape; cookouts at their house where he steamed clams in the giant black and silver-flecked pot; birthday parties; Christmas Eves.  Every phone call ended with (sometimes several times) his saying how much he loved us and was proud of us.

    Grandpa and Grandma were married for 61 years.

His illness over the past two years made his passing a blessing for him to relieve his physical suffering.  The loss is ours, that this spirit who lighted our lives now has to do so from our memories.

I can only hope that we raise Audrey, Theresa, and Jamie to be as fundamentally and genuinely good, kind, and faithful as he was.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeff permalink
    July 24, 2011 1:24 pm

    Well said. I would only add his love of golf. The times I went with him were great even though he always beat me. I would hit the ball a mile further than him (but not straight) and he would just go straight down the fairway. It was impossible to get frustrated because of his laugh and “you’ll do better on the next one” attitude. Thanks for bringing tears to my eyes….again

  2. Neal & BJ permalink
    July 21, 2011 12:50 pm

    What a precious tribute to your Grandpa, Michelle. Your Grandpa will continue to light up all your lives through your Grandma, your Mom, and all the rest of your family. I didn’t know him, but I know your Mom, and I know you, and his light and love are already shining through the both of you.

    Love you,
    BJ & Neal

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