August 22, 2009

He-Man, Inspector Gadget & Grandpa

It is never easy to lose a loved one. I found out exactly a week ago that my 85yr old grandpa, James "Jay" Joseph Lipan, passed away in his sleep. Spending time in Bay City, MI with my rather large family on my dad's side consumed the majority of my week and yet was somehow refreshing. We had a great time celebrating the life of a husband to my Grandma for 61yrs, father of 6, grandfather of 17, great grandfather of 12, brother, original crew member of the USS Midway during WWII and stranger to no one.

I have some great memories of my Grandpa over the 30yrs that I knew him and was fortunate enough to have lived 4 doors down from him and my Grandma for the first 5yrs of my life. Even as young as I was I can still vividly remember riding my Big Wheel (mine had a flat spot on the front wheel from doing all those sweet skids) down to their house right around dinner time to sit with my Grandpa and watch He-Man, Inspector Gadget and People's Court. I got to pick two, he got to pick one.

The thing that I appreciated most about my Grandpa was his ability to bring people together. My Grandma and Grandpa's house was the place people gathered. It was the 'Grand Central Station', the hub of the Lipan family. The place where there was always something going on and always someone coming or going and always a friendly exchange. It was not uncommon to have 50+ people pass through the doors of my Grandpa's house during a holiday get together and somehow he would make every single one of them not only feel welcome but like they were part of the family. He was the embodiment of hospitality, the very definition of what it meant to welcome in the stranger.

Needless to say that our family did not always make the best decisions and yet Grandpa understood what it meant to love unconditionally. Whether it was one of his kids or one of his grand kids he never passed judgment and instead would simply say, "To each his own." and go on loving us. I don't think this meant he wasn't disappointed at times or didn't disagree with decisions that were made but you knew that the love never stopped. I think this is what allowed him to be one of the most, if not the most hospitable person I have known. Certainly a tough act to follow. Thanks Gramps!