Tuesday, November 21, 2006


It's force of habit that makes us think immediately of how much we have lost when someone close to us passes away. You can't call or write any more, you can't stop by, you don't need to set out their place setting at holidays. And these are all sad things. But so often we forget that we also gain so much what a person leaves us...the opportunity to review their glorious life while writing an obituary, the renewed reminder to cherish family and friends, the new knowledge that someone you love will always be keeping an eye on you from above.

My mind sprang immediately to how much I would miss Grandad when someone won the World Series. He was the one who sparked my interest in the game. I remember his being at our house one time and insisting on watching the game on TV. All around him, people were buzzing around, getting ready for dinner. No. He was watching the baseball. Eventually, Mom sent me in to collect Grandad, and I found him sitting on the couch, head back, mouth open, snoring. I figured then that there had to be something special about a game that led people to insist on watching it and then put them to sleep.

Now, Grandad had the sense to be a Phillies fan, whereas I took a wrong turn somewhere and sentenced myself to being a Red Sox fan. Grandad was the first person I thought to call when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004...luckily, I couldn't get good reception in the place I was calling from, since I'm not sure I was calm enough to use actual english words, but the next day I called, and got the classic Walter Brown "well how 'bout that?" which I hear in my head after most great plays and surprising wins. I loved Grandad's baseball...full of memories and stories. And I will be sad when someone winds the Series, because I won't be able to discuss it with him and hear what he thinks, but I know he's watching the hames and that at least part of what he would say is "well, how about that."

I've been lucky to be able to talk baseball with my grandparents. I discovered how unsusual it was to have so many living grandparents in college, where people were astounded to hear that I not only had the basic four pack of grandparents, even a six pack from a divorce and two remarriages on my mother's side. I do remember not feeling so lucky when I was younger and thought Grandad was about the most intimidating person alive. Try and remember when you were small...lower elementary school perhaps, when adults didn't exist and there were only Grownups. Now imagine a grown up almost double your height, with a bald head and big grownup glasses. And by the way, this super-grown-up has a great booming voice, smokes a pipe, which you've never seen anyone else do, and has a certain fondness for giving indian burns. Terrifying, right? He also didn't dumb down his jokes too much, but rather expected kids to be smart enough to figure it out. Thankfully, I finally put on some height and was able to understand how funny and warm Grandad was...I would have really missed out on a phenomenal man had I not come to understand these things about him. Unfortunately, he never really gave up on the indian burns.

It's so wonderful to see you all here today. I encourage all of you to find someone from a completely different part of Grandad's life and find out about their Walter Brown. Part of what made him so wonderful was how much he did...I passed his obituary around to one of my friends who had met him, and all I can say is that when you have lived for 88 years and people still wonder how you had time to do everything you accomplished, you have lived a good life, an exemplary life. Today, talk with each other about Walter. Talk about this good man and his good life, and gain from today, as we have all gained an eternal watchdog and spirit on our side. Let go of the feelings of loss and regret, and know that we all have gained by knowing him, and that he loved us all. Today, celebrate his life.

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