My grandfather passed away yesterday morning. Herbert Dale Anderson - Andy is what everyone called him. Here's a picture of him with Andy and Sam the last time we were able to visit him two summers ago in Michigan.
I'm feeling a wee bit guilty about not seeing him for the past two years. I was planning on going up this summer, but then we found out about the big move and it postponed my plans. I am very happy that he was able to spend the last 15 years with his wife Lyn, who has been a terrific companion, with a keen ability to match any wise crack that came out of his mouth with one of her own!
He could fix anything. He was a mechanical and chemical engineer, and certainly where I got a lot of my engineering ambitions from. He was VERY proud when I received my engineering degree and became an engineer, and somewhat disappointed when I stopped being one. He helped develop Brach's first chocolate formula, helped create the Harvest Crisp cracker, and I think I was the first kid on the planet to try Oreos with ORANGE stuffing - a new product they were trying out for Halloween.
I'd go up to visit my grandparents every summer in La Grange, IL (a suburb of Chicago) after we moved to New Orleans when I was in first grade. He would make pancakes every Sunday morning. I'd tag along when he had to go to the bank on Saturdays, mostly for the lollipop that the drive-thru teller would send back through the tube with his deposit receipt. He'd shoot pool with us in the basement. (When I say 'us', normally my cousin Katheryn's visits would overlap with mine, so we have some great shared memories.) He'd take us to Cubs games at Wrigley Field, which incidentally is the best place in the world to see a baseball game.
I think it was the last game he took Katheryn and me to, somehow the keys got locked in the car with the engine still running. We had parked on the street in front of a bar, and borrowed an ice scoop from them which he used to break the small window in front to turn the car off and get the keys out. After the game, we arrived at the car to find a parking ticket on the windshield! (If I remember correctly, the signs in the area didn't make the illegal parking abundantly clear.) But he never got upset about it - kept his cool through the whole ordeal. 'Not to worry' was one of his favorite sayings.
One summer he successfully fixed my well-used fencing lame by soldering patches on for me before the national tournament, which happened to be two hours away from where my grandparents lived. It wasn't pretty, but it worked!
He used to like to play tennis. He had a stroke a couple years ago, and has since needed a walker to get around. I hope he's playing tennis right now, and drinking a Schlitz. I love you, Papa.