The Private Intellectual
Ecclesiastes-Based Real Estate Advice

Saturday, May 29, 2010  

May 29, 1980

I was not quite eleven months old when my paternal grandfather died on this day thirty years ago. A week before he died, we were out together by one of the lakes in Madison and my grandfather observed that you leave the world much as you come into it--being wheeled around by others.

The decades-long tide of well-wishers, supporters, friends, family, neighbors, and general condolers congregated at the old farm house in Bone Lake township (the dourly-named rural district adjoining Luck, Wisconsin). Pastor Peterson came back from the Upper Peninsula to preside at the funeral, which had to be transferred from the family parish of Bone Lake, with its little clapboard church, to the somewhat grander modern building in Luck. Senator Gaylord Nelson spoke and Rep. David Obey was there along with a few planes full of legislators from Madison who had flown up for the sendoff. There was a lady's aid luncheon back in Bone Lake, hands shaken, and then a grandmother in an old farm house now finally reft of husband along with four grown sons.

I have no memories of this grandfather, but he was an immense part of my life as early as I can remember. His stories were legendary and mostly not suitable for a family blog. He liked to smoke, drink, and eat too much, though he apparently had success subduing the first two vices. He loved stories and politics and cussing and his sons and their children. I didn't know him in himself, but I have come to know a lot of him in me. This is why we tell stories and preserve memories. This is why we can share a grief we didn't know first-hand and enjoy a history that only glances the surface of our lives.

I didn't know him, but I miss him. So do the people who actually did know him. Rest in peace.

posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 9:55 PM
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