My great grandfather Peter Campbell was a wonderful man. My grandma told me about how he ate at Joe DiMaggio's restaurant in San Francisco and approached the baseball legend, asking him for an autograph for my father. Another time, while working at the base on Alameda Island, he approached Lucille Ball who had been filming there at the time. When he asked her for an autograph for his grandson, however, she was not so inclined like Joe DiMaggio was. Her response was "If I do it for you, then I have to do it for everyone." Mind you, there was no one around at the time my grandfather asked. To each his own, I guess.
After I was born, my grandfather wanted to get me something special. While passing a department store display window, he spotted a brown teddy bear. He went into the store and asked to purchase the bear in the window. When the salesperson told him it wasn't for sale and was simply a prop, he asked to speak to a supervisor. I don't know how much of a stink he had to put up with the supervisor, but he ended up getting me my bear.
In January of my twelfth year, I got really sick. I missed school and went to the doctor's office, but he didn't know what was wrong with me. This lasted for a couple of days. I was lying on the couch in our living room when my great aunt called and asked me if I knew when the funeral was going to be. I had no idea what she was talking about, and she quickly realized her mistake. My grandma came home later that day and told me that my great grandfather had passed away. Though I was sad the next day, I was no longer sick.
I felt very guilty over his death. We would drive the hour it took to go visit him every weekend, and I was always bored while there. I loved my grandfather immensely, but I was a kid; what did I know about how precious time is? Needless to say, I hadn't visited my grandfather for many weeks before his death. So when he died, it made my sense of loss so much greater.
I attended his funeral, then at a gathering we had later at our house, I read a poem I had written:
" He had the hands of determination,
The face to hide his frustration.
He was an all around great man,
But what I miss the most are his smiling eyes of Scotland"
My grandma and aunt felt this was a fitting epitaph and surprised me by having it put on my grandfather's gravestone.
I know that my great grandfather loved me, and I sometimes feel him with me. I miss his overly tight hugs and his wonderfully bright face, but I will always carry him in my memory, and my heart.