It's funny how life works out sometimes. Within just a few miles of each other, at this very moment, one of my very best friends is giving birth to her first child, while my family also is burying my paternal grandfather, who passed away last week.
Donald Rich was an interesting man, to say the least. He was a preacher in the Assemblies of God his entire life, and his work took him to various different places across the world. The most exotic locale where I ever visited him was when he was running a small church on a reservation in Arizona. I was a teenager and more than amused watching a mouse crawl up and down the wall of the tiny shack while he preached. I don't know if he caught me laughing or not. He seemed surprised when we explained it to him later.
My favorite stories he would tell me were about the time he spent in China in the 1950s and hearing what it was like to have to get out of the country when the Communists locked the place down. There was a sense of adventure in his voice whenever he talked about that, a tone I never really heard when he spoke on other topics. He was still quite curious to hear about the country when I visited Beijing a little over ten years ago, in a completely different century than he had. He said he always wanted to go back.
I am not sure my grandfather always understood me, and I know I didn't always understand him, and there were many things on which we did not agree, but he always welcomed me through his door, despite probably being the weirdest of his twelve grandkids and I don't even know how many great grandkids. He always called me "Ramos," for reasons I never understood, and it wasn't until I was older that it was pointed out to me that I was the only grandchild he had given a nickname to. He put up with my joking around, for whatever reason. Maybe "Ramos" was another smartass he knew once upon a time.
The picture below is of my grandfather with my grandmother, Elsie, who left us less than a year ago. In truth, it's kind of a surprise he lasted this long without her. I can't imagine them ever really being separate.