a gentleman in the truest sense of the word

In honor of Grandpa Mann’s birthday, I’m sharing a tribute I wrote after he went home to Heaven this summer…

a photo I took in 2001

Grandpa Harold Mann was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.

Grandpa was polite. He always said please and thank you. He nodded his head, winked, and smiled each time I said hello or “I love you.”

Grandpa was a craftsman. He built the home he and Grandma lived in from the time they got married. He built bookshelves for Dr. Seuss. He built houses for architect Sim Bruce Richards. He hung doors in my in-laws’ home with careful precision. 

Grandpa was classy. He always wore button-up shirts. I never saw him in denim jeans.

Grandpa was kind. Zeb was a feisty kitten who would sooner bite anyone else, but would settle down to snuggle on Grandpa’s lap. Out of the entire litter, Grandpa chose Zeb. He fed him his leftovers and fattened him up and tamed him.

Grandpa was patient. I’m sure he couldn’t hear the TV as well with my children in the room, but he never complained. I know I never had dinner ready right on time when I was cooking for him, but he never complained. I know he was in a lot of pain as the cancer progressed, but he never complained.

Grandpa had a servant’s heart. He faithfully cared for Grandma for many years as her health declined. After sharing a meal with us, he would sit at the dinner table in his wheelchair and gather up the dishes after the meal was through, stacking the bowls and spoons.

Grandpa was generous. There was always cash or a check along with a card with his signature at Christmas time. There were dinners out at a restaurant and a Honey Baked Ham whenever we went to visit him and Grandma. 

Grandpa was sharp. Last June, when my mother-in-law wondered aloud about the date, Grandpa said, “It’s the 13th—my half birthday!”

Grandpa listened. He would laugh at the children’s jokes. He would pipe up with a contribution to the conversation when you didn’t even know he could hear you.

Grandpa had a good memory. I was gone for ten days this spring helping care for my own maternal grandfather. I came in to say hi when I returned, and he said, “You’re back!” I told him where I’d been and he told me his sister lived near there.

Grandpa never complained. We’d ask how he was doing, and he’d say, “Good.” As the pain increased this year, his answer was sometimes, “Fair.” Then, he’d just nod. A nurse would come and ask his pain level, and it would be an eight or a ten, but he’d never let on unless he was asked.

Grandpa was a man of few words. So when after church in 2002 he grabbed my arm and the arm of his oldest grandson and said, “We think you two make a cute couple,” I was speechless.

Grandpa’s oldest grandson is like him in many ways: a careful, humble, compassionate man. I’m so glad his grandson eventually agreed that we made a cute couple, because I got to marry my husband and Grandpa Mann became my grandpa, too.

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