I remember the scratchy tickleness of your goatee; getting to be the one who blew out the match after you lit your pipe; how stylish you always were, even when you were just out raking the leaves; the big blue bookcase full of your classical, opera, and Dean and Frank and the other boys music; the story of you so involved in a conversation that you buttered the wine cork rather than your breadstick; saving the heel of the rye bread for you; the smell of your tobacco; "1-2-3" jump and "ow-eee, ow-eee, ow-eeee"; writing messages to you on the workshop chalkboard; cocktail cruises on the party boat; dinners at Pete O'Neill's; our Monday morning commutes into the city, with a stop for a coffee and cream for you and a bagel for me; your blue-and-white seersucker suit; wearing your reading glasses; helping to clean out your pipes; how no matter where we lived, you always seemed to find a way to mispronounce the town or base; you and Nana dropping me off at Smith; your cosmo cocktail hours overlooking the lake; your stories of growing up in Brooklyn with the rest of the fabulous Darling clan; our California shopping trips to "Moivyn's"; trying to stay out of your political discussions; listening to you enjoy those same discussions with Uncle George and Mark and others; our discussion together that last Christmas; and so much more.
Thank you for helping to raise me those first months of my life and for so many more months after that; for taking us in all those summers (and falls and winters); for your constant love and support, no matter how far apart we were; for visiting me in my dreams these past few years; for providing an example of such a strong, loving, happy, supportive relationship (you and Nana set a high standard for us all to follow); your belief in me and in Mark.
I wish I had more of your generosity and kindness; your ability to strike up a friendship with just about anyone, anywhere; your good humor and positive outlook; your dignity and grace.
I love you, Grandpa. Happy Birthday!