Robert Clark: 1932 – 2011

My grandfather died on Saturday evening. It was unexpected. My uncle today said that he figured Grandpa would be around for another 10 years.

I spent a lot of my time with my grandparents until I was about 3 years old, and then frequently visited them until about 6th or 7th grade. Then, mostly holidays.

For most of my life, they lived in Libby, MT. I have fond memories of splashing around in a kid’s pool in their front yard, ducking through fencing and piles of electronics to pick raspberries in the summer, and watching my grandmother smoke in the kitchen while the dishwasher ran after she baked chocolate chip cookies.

My uncle taught me morse code in my grandparents’ attic. I spent way too many hours watching my grandfather solder strange machines back to life, and fix all of our neighbor’s TVs and many seemingly throw-away devices. He spent an afternoon explaining to me some conspiracy amongst hairdryer manufacturers, and how simple it usually was to revive a dead one.

I spent most of today sorting through his papers, and trying to make lists for my mom and uncle. I don’t really know how to say what it feels like to look through all of the paperwork, bills and stupidity he had to manage these last few years for medical treatment. Horrifying, painful and enraging come to mind.

I found pictures of my grandpa with his dog Tuffy. And pictures of me with Tuffy licking my face.

I saw my grandma in petal-pushers, with my mom at 2 or 3 years old. There were letters from old friends, some from people I’d never heard of. My grandfather was a private person.

He served in the Army from 1950-1953. He was stationed in Alaska before it became a state. After the Army he got a degree in electronics and eventually started his own business in Libby. He fixed things incessantly and couldn’t stand the thought of throwing something useful away.

He really liked coffee and cookies at 2am.

I miss him.

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