When I was a small child we would go over my grandparents house and play. At the time we lived in the same town, LaPorte, Indiana and my Mom's parents lived out in the country on several acres of land. As a kid I never really noticed that the place was "run down" or unkept; all I knew was that I loved going out there because there was always kittens or puppies in one of the out-buildings and there were tons of abandoned cars and trucks out back to play in. As an adult I realize that it was really a kind of junk-yard but as a kid you don't really notice those kinds of things. As a kid, I thought that was pretty awesome. All I knew about my Grandpa at that point was that he was always there in a pair of dirty work pants and a white t-shirt working on something in the big garage out back. He was a bit rough but I loved that he would let me go get him a PBR from the fridge and sometimes, if Mom wasn't around, he'd even let me have the first sip. He was just "Grandpa" and that's all I knew.
When I was in 3rd grade we moved to Wisconsin and then to Iowa and on and on. Our visits to LaPorte became far and few between and my relationship with my Grandpa, since he never came with Grandma when she drove to visit us, became non-existent. We lost my Grandma when I was in college and my Mom and Grandpa had a falling out. I won't go into the personal family details because it isn't important. They reconciled a few years ago and I got the chance to see my Grandpa once or twice when I visited my Aunts in LaPorte. By then he was a old man - still rough around the edges but what can I say, he was still just "Grandpa."
Walter Becker - Grandpa - passed away peacefully in his sleep last week. When I read the bio that my Aunt wrote about him I was stunned. I had heard a little bit about his time in the military and knew that he had been a POW but I didn't really know the whole story. I guess he was more than just a "Grandpa" after all...
(written by Mary Becker "Aunt TT")
Rest in peace Grandpa
*Katie, my Mom, Will, and Grandpa