(This is the rendition that was played during the Military Funeral Honors.)
Robert Joseph Last, Bobby, Bobby Joe, Bob, Robert, Dad, Uncle Bob, Grandpa, Grampy, G-Pop, Boompah, Great-Grandpa, Great-Great-Grandpa -- Some of the many names for one extraordinary man.
Son, brother, husband, father, uncle, life mate, friend.
He played many roles and wore many hats - all of them cocked to the right.
He was hard working, fiercely loyal, a true gentleman. Proud, honorable, but never thought he was better than anyone - only better looking.
He always thought of others before himself, but nothing came before family.
Loved by all, admired by many, envied by some. Good natured, soft spoken, always had a kind word, a life lesson or a story, usually over coffee, dinner, a car ride, or during a no-holds-barred game of Scrabble or Chinese checkers. He was even known to cheat on occasion.
I knew him first as my Grandpa Bob. When I think of him, my first thought is of his magic incantation for changing the stop lights to green.
*Red Light, Red Light, Turn to Green. Puff. Puff. Puff.*
If it didn't work the first time, we'd chant the magic spell even louder. Then we'd close our eyes and clap our hands. There were a million variables; time of day, geography, wether or not we were on a hill. Regardless of how many times you had to chant, it always worked.
He wasn't of large stature, but he was a mountain in my eyes from my earliest memory. As I got older (about 5 or 6), my hero worship transitioned into infatuation. I wanted to marry him when I grew up. Somehow, I even managed to get Grandma Ruth's blessing.
I remember spending the night when he worked for the airline, and getting to stay up late watching TV until it was time for him to go work the night shift. He'd let me help pack his lunch in his black metal lunch pail with the noisy handle. Right before he walked out the door, he'd warn me not to tattle to my parents for letting me stay up. It was our secret, and he didn't want to get into trouble.
I never tattled.
I remember going out to eat sometimes. If the waitress refilled his water without being asked, or brought extra napkins, or asked if he wanted anything, he'd nudge you and wink, whispering conspiratorily something like, "I think she likes me." Or, "She's sweet on your ol' Grandpa," or, "I get special treatment here because she thinks I'm cute." And who wouldn't invent a reason to be around him? I can't think of a single soul.
I remember listening to him play the harmonica, smoking his pipe, going to church, and telling stories. There was always a story. It didn't matter how many times you'd heard it before, when Grandpa told a story you paid attention. Or you kept asking questions until he lost track of the original story and moved onto some other story.
I can't help but think there are at least a million stories I never got to hear. I know there are a lot of stories I want to hear a million times. I take comfort in wondering what stories he's telling now, and to whom.
He has reunited with those who have gone on before him. They've prepared a place for him and have been anxiously awaiting his arrival with great joy and anticipation of all the stories he has to tell.
As quoted from the No Sorrow To Die poem by Amelia Barr -
"Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die."
Grandpa loved life and lived it to the fullest.
We love you, Grandpa.