My Grandpa is a big bag of contradictions. He likes to be kind and helpful to people, but he can be a withering critic. He loves to laugh and cut up, and yet he takes himself very seriously. Perhaps a little too seriously. He also has an exacting memory for when other people fall short of the glory of himself, and he never forgets. This said, he probably still thinks of me as the wild granddaughter with pink hair. Well, he's still right about the wild bit, but anyhoo...
At my Grandma's funeral 1.5 years ago, my great-uncle W. told my brother "I guess the next funeral y'all come up for will be mine." W. had been having health issues, and apparently he felt his time was short even though at about 77 he was younger than my grandpa by at least 15 years.
About 5 months ago, W was driving home one day, wife in the passenger side. Doctors think W had a teeny stroke and passed out behind the wheel, wrecking the vehicle and suffering a spinal injury in the process. Since then, W has been paralyzed from the neck down and in the hospital.
When I went to see Grandpa at Thanksgiving, he launched into a story about hauling livestock in a big truck, driving multiple runs from- and to- Indiana to make money in the 1940s. Grandpa asked W to drive so he could get some sleep. Well, W dozed off and nearly wrecked the truck, awakening Grandpa in the process. Being the one-strike & you're out kind of guy, W was forever in Grandpa's mind firmly cemented as someone-who-goes-to-sleep-whilst-driving. Nodding-off behind the wheel as a teenager is on par with being a wife-beater: having achieved the title, you must don the sobriquet in perpetuity. Myself, even if the event last year WAS the result of falling asleep, I'm going to give a body a pass on only slipping up twice in 8 decades on earth. Call me lax.
There was talk, of course. Grandpa will not be dissuaded from his quaint views of the universe. The one notion that likely saved him utterly from blaming W for this accident is probably the nagging suspicion that the one in the car with the ovaries was behind the wheel and caused the accident. After all, what moron thought it was a good ideer to have women drivers?
Incidentally, Uncle W was in the Air Force. I've heard tell he was part of the crew that analyzed the MiG of the defecting Russian in the late 70s, the first MiG the US military got to interfere with in the Biblical sense. He was an aircraft mechanic, a brilliant man, a capable farmer, forest ranger, an enterprising man, and none of his children have embarrassed the family by breeding-out-of-wedlock or having non-Baptists in woodpiles and such. W passed away early Saturday morning, and we'll miss him. Bless you, Uncle W.