Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandpa England

Today my husband's father would have turned 86. We toasted him at dinner and the kids had cake to celebrate.

Hugh died after Mike and I had been married only a year and a half. I saw him only four times:
  • He and Olga came to visit Japan in spring 1988, and we'd been dating for a year and a half.
  • They came to Oregon for our wedding in June 1990.
  • We went to England during the winter after we were married (December 1990).
  • We spent Christmas in England in 1991.
He died in 1992...at the ripe young age of 68, after having mowed the lawn. Although he suffered from angina, he had just seen the doctor that morning. Mike's mum, Olga, discovered him dead in the garage when she returned home. I can't imagine the shock and grief she must have felt, being widowed at 52...only 7 years older than I am now.

We gave Christopher his name for his middle name (no, he's NOT named after Hugh Grant). We struggled with that decision, because we knew that we wanted to use Hugh as a middle name for our first son, and when Chris was born we honestly did not know whether he would live or die. But we decided that he needed an angel to watch over him, and watch he did.

Mike and I both deeply regret the fact that his dad never met any of his grandchildren. When he died, Mike was the only child who was married, and we had not even begun to think of children yet. Hugh loved children, and I remember watching him play with baby Jenna (Mike's cousin's daughter, who tragically died in an auto accident last month). It is truly a loss that he never got to meet any of his grandchildren, who I know he would have loved and cherished.

Hugh loved life--he loved his family, his career (he was a diplomat), travel, and a good meal. I will always remember, at the end of a good meal and a nice helping of wine, he would say "I'm feeling very content!" Although he was a strongly committed Catholic, he loved to have a little bit of fun with his much more conservative sisters...one day when the priest came to lunch, he got the conversation directed to married priests...just for fun, and much to Aunty Betty's horror! Another time when Mike and Hugh were watching a program about overpopulation on the "telly," he made a comment along the lines of people needing to learn about birth control. Mike was surprised, given that his father was a lifelong Catholic.

He expressed some dismay at our choice of "Sunrise, Sunset" as a song for our wedding. However, I cherish the image on our wedding video of tears rolling down Hugh's face as he listened to that song.

Happy birthday, Grandpa England. We miss you terribly.

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