These are the words I shared at the funeral of my grandfather, who left us on December 15, 2013, after ninety-two years writing his story on this earth. If ever we get a chance, let me tell you about my grandfather…
Once upon a time there was a man we called Papa, and he was a storyteller.
When we were little and we would go over to his house, we would climb all over him in his chair that he always sat in and demand a story. Sometimes he would read one to us, but usually he would make one up. Our favorites were his creative tales about two fleas named Itchy and Scratchy who lived on a dog and had all kinds of adventures, like going to the circus. And I think he would make up stories that seemed suspiciously familiar, like something about a little girl and a little boy, brothers and sisters, who lived on a farm, or visited their grandparents, or went camping, or whatever fit at the time. He would also sing us songs, like “Home on the Range.”
Our storyteller Papa would also tell us many family favorite stories, like things my mom and Nancy did when they were little girls. A classic was the story of how they put fake plastic dog vomit on the floor, and when he came home he got so mad at that dog and went and got a mop and bucket of water and tried to clean it up before he realized the kids were playing a joke on him!
Of course Papa had many stories from his PT boat days in World War II. He’d tell us about life in the small quarters of the ship, their daring escapes, singing songs at midnight on Christmas Eve on the ship, and our favorite, the one about the guy who was hanging off the side of the boat when it suddenly took off full speed, and no one knew he was hanging on back there for dear life.
Maybe the only thing he liked talking about more than his PT boat days and buddies was his four grandchildren. I can only imagine the ears he would bend when we first came along and passed through childhood milestones and did all those funny things kids do. I’m not sure who actually found it for them, but we were all so tickled one year when when were little and we found Grandma and Papa the perfect gift to put on the front of their travel trailer that they would spend summers camping in—a front license plate that said, “Let me tell you about my grandchildren!” We just knew Papa was already doing that wherever he went, probably whether he was asked or not.
And of course his favorite story of all time—and ours too—is the incredible love story Laura calls The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room. He told it to her so many times over the last couple years that she could retell it for you almost word for word, and maybe she will. Of course it is the story of how he met our grandma, Hazel. And it ended with how she stayed so beautiful even when a lot of the other women he knew turned into, quote, “some real bow-wows.”
It’s that love story that brought us here today, because that love has been passed on through the family to Don and Hazel’s children, our moms, who passed it on to us, and who made sure we’re all here today to remember that love and honor it and take up the legacy of this incredible man.
Every great story leaves you thinking about what happens next, and sometimes you get what’s called an epilogue to give you a peek into how it all turned out after the main story comes to a close. Our Papa’s story has an epilogue, and it says: Don Bujold loved his wife Hazel for sixty-seven years, in sickness and in health. Together they had two daughters, one son, four grandchildren, and so far three great-grandchildren.
We are all the rest of the story. We are living the epilogue. And I hope and pray that we live it well.
Thank you for being part of the story, and part of this day.