"Psst, (Epiph), go stand by your dad," my mom whispered to me. I was 12, and we were about to leave the funeral home and go into the procession to bury my grandpa. My dad was standing alone at his dad's casket, looking down at him. The room was mostly empty and most had headed out to their cars.
My dad held in his hand a Red Wings cap. He put his arms around me and I watched as he nuzzled the cap under my grandpa's arm. "When I think about him down there in ten years, or twenty years, I'm going to think about that Red Wings cap we put in there," he said. He waited until after the service, lest any of Grandpa's old world Polish friends would think it inappropriate.
Tonight, dad called me and told me that Grandpa must be rolling around in his grave, because the Red Wings had just won the Stanley Cup! Strange expression he chose, I admit. Still, I was glad I was watching the game, too, and we could share in the moment. And, wow, what a game - Osgood made an incredible save with less than a second to go, and the Penguins' last ditch effort to score scooted just ahead of the goal line. A real nail-biter.
It was good to think of Grandpa again. He lived a cool life, being born in Poland in 1911 and fighting in World War II until his batallion was captured by the Nazi forces. He was a POW in a Nazi War camp until the end of the war, when he, at age 38, he met and married a 24-year old German war widow with a child. They immigrated a couple years later, moving to Detroit, where Grandpa and Grandma raised three boys while Grandpa worked as a barber for 40 years and Grandma as a cashier and beautician. He always had a smile on his face, and he certainly would right now, as well.
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