I am not the only one grieving the loss of my father. His grandchildren all miss the man who had such a profound impact on all their lives. Each of my nieces and nephews wrote or spoke about their grandfather at his memorial service yesterday. They have graciously allowed me to reprint their words here. Here are two of their remembrances.
Meagan Elizabeth Thomsen Raeke
How’s life? Some people greet others by asking, “How’s it going?” or “How are you doing?” and they don’t really expect an answer beyond “fine” or “good.” I remember my grandpa, in a booming voice, asking, “How’s life?” It didn’t matter if he was asking me, a school friend I’d just introduced or the waitress taking our order, he was honestly interested in your answer. That’s the kind of man my grandfather was – genuinely interested in other’s lives, their stories. The kind of man who would make new friends wherever he went.
If he was really interested in something, he wanted to tell you about it, and he wanted you to feel just as excited as he did.
As I think about growing up with grandpa, I remember his collections – cowboy hats, pins, coins, stamps and of course, photos. With the exception of cowboy hats, he shared all of them with me, and I was excited to have my own collections like grandpa. Later in life, he shared his love of photography, gladly gifting a well-loved camera to me when I took a series of photojournalism classes.
While I did follow in his footsteps with a degree in journalism, I didn’t keep up with the other collections. As I look back now, I don’t think it was so much that I was interested in those particular collectors items as it was that grandpa’s passion and enthusiasm were infectious. If he was really interested in something, he wanted to tell you about it, and he wanted you to feel just as excited as he did.
Grandpa was a role model for me because of his passion for life. I hope to honor him by pursuing my interests and career with as much zest and gusto as he did. Thank you grandpa for everything you taught me – both the things I remember and everything that’s too ingrained to recall. I love you and will always try to do you proud.
Meagan is my father’s oldest grandchild, now married and living in Houston.
Matthew Miller Thomsen
Whenever I was with grandpa he loved to meet new people and make them laugh with his jokes. He would amaze me with his hand tricks – I never got tired of the one where he pretended to pull off his thumb. He was very special to me because we always had a good time laughing together. I loved him very much and I know he loved me too.
Matt is my father’s youngest grandchild, an 8th grader in the Austin area