|Grandpa, Dad & Me at Coney Island, Cincinnati, OH|
I recently stumbled across something I wrote (I can't believe it's been almost six years now) for my Grandpa Pfennig's funeral. I miss him so much, but am thankful he is now with my Grandma, dancing!
I am Christine, daughter of Art and Sue Connors. Sue is the daughter of Paul Pfennig, Sr,. My Grandpa. I’m about to read something about My Grandpa, but these are not just my thoughts. I would like to thank my cousins, Tim & Linda, Mel & Eric (Tim & Mel are the children of Tim Pfennig, Paul’s son), Julie & Jason, Elizabeth & Mark, and Christopher (Julie, Liz & Chris and the children of Paul Pfennig, Jr., Paul’s son), and my dearly loved sister, Sherrie and her husband Dave. I think Liz said it best when she wrote “When you’re asked to write down a few memories that you have shared with someone you love very much who has passed, the thought of it makes you sad. But then as you go to start typing all of a sudden your head is flooded with memories that you haven’t thought of in so long, and the next thing you know you’re sitting at the computer with a smile on your face.” Thank you so much for sharing your memories and making the story of My Grandpa possible. I love you all from the depths of my heart.
My Grandpa laughed from the bottom up, from the inside out. Sunbeams brightened a room when he stepped in. My Grandpa gave the strongest, warmest hugs and we never wanted to let go. My Grandpa was the man who always smiled with a sparkle in his eye and walked with purpose. Most of us remember walking right along with him: to the corner bar in Reading, the General Store, Walmart and The Square in Glasgow, and to the river in Rising Sun. Some of our favorite memories of Grandpa happened during those times. He always treated us to Cokes in little glass bottles or glasses with coffee stirrers to drink them so they would last a little longer. We learned how to bowl, win over crowds, choose toys wisely, develop an eye for antiques and to slow down and watch the water go by. Grandpa recycled cans by picking them up on those walks long before recycling became en vogue teaching us how to be frugal and to care for the places in which we live.
Many times, Grandpa would sing from the bottom of his belly on those walks “Flies in the sugar bowl…shoo fly shoo…” “Roll out the barrel…” Mel plays the piano and remembers many a time when Grandpa would simply burst into song as she was playing encouraging her to play more. While Grandpa could sing a hootenanny with the best, this was only the tip of the iceberg for him. Grandpa had a deep love of classical music as well. Roll Out the Barrel to Rachmaninoff—like the variation of these songs Grandpa loved dearly, he was a never-ending surprise.
My Grandpa was an expert woodworker and loved to share his craft with everyone. Tim said ‘the things that came out of Grandpa’s shop were as perfect as one of Grandma’s afghans.’ For those of you that have seen Grandma’s afghans, you know what he means! Julie remembers Grandpa leaving the door open a crack so she could sneak to the basement in Glasgow to sit and watch him work for hours. Many of my family members and cousins are very gifted working with our hands—thank you, Grandpa, for those talents and encouraging us to use them.
My Grandpa gave the most unconditional love of any human being I have known. He let us walk with him, work with him, sit with him in the ‘big recliner’ and just be by his side. Julie said ‘like a lost puppy’—I think that sums it up well. He went out of his way to patch scraped knees, sing to us when we were sad, and help those who needed it most. Along the way, he was teaching all of us to do the same. Tim remembers Grandpa installing lights in the barn. Before then, only one bulb provided light for the space. While working, Grandpa taught Tim how to wire the bulbs. Grandparents know how quickly children grow up and Grandpa helped our parents along the way so often.
While my Grandpa was a kind-hearted soul, he was an amazing practical joker. He told the most incredible stories and I’m sure we all have memories of being duped a time or two. Liz remembers walking with Grandpa on Mary & Tim’s farm when he took a pack of tobacco from his pocket. That was right about the time Big League Chew came out for kids—remember that? It looked so good and smelled good, too, so of course, Grandpa gave her a piece to try. Yuk!!! Many times, we would get tickled for no reason, or made up reasons like: laughing, running, jumping, or just being a kid! I remember walking with Grandpa to Walmart with Sherrie when he still smoked cigars. We know he could blow smoke from his eyes and to this day, I’ve never seen anyone else do it!
My Grandpa was a Navy cook—and we are so glad that he was. We all remember breakfast in the morning at Grandma & Grandpa’s: scrambled eggs mixed with sausage or bacon and buttery toast! Our parents make the same great eggs—they learned from the best. And, we are learning to make them, too. I remember sneaking to the basement in Glasgow, too, but not for woodworking. Grandpa kept his meat slicer down there and he always bought the best salami in the world. We would cut it and make sandwiches, with Coke, of course.
My Grandpa went out of his way to make each and every one of us feel special. Liz wanted to share the memory that is closet to her heart and that is her trip to Greece with Grandpa. How many people at the age of nineteen can say they’ve been to Greece, the Greek Isles and Turkey? Yet again, Grandpa showed how thoughtful, generous and kind he was when he created this special moment for his granddaughter.
My Grandpa whirled and twirled little boys and girls to lift us to the sun and beyond. We knew we could touch it and reach the stars with Grandpa there. Every person has a gift and Grandpa lived his. He was a natural encourager, a lifter of people. He taught us how to live our lives to the fullest and he will be greatly missed. Someone once told me that the spirits of our ancestors live within us; and they are always with us in the palms of our hands.
To my family, my aunts and uncles, my cousins and their children: Open your hands with me and look. Grandpa is there with you to lift you up in spirit as he did when he was here with you in person. I am encouraging you as I know he would have done. Take Grandpa’s gift with a glad heart and share it with everyone you know. Use your hands, words and lives to lift others up to the sun as he did for you. Let them know that anything is possible and through this, let Grandpa live through you.
I love you and may God bless you and keep you safe!