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As I see it, no one remembers him, only the booze, the drunken swagger, and slow drawl that crept out from beneath his handle bar mustache. They remember him old, defeated, not so much more than a has been from a more than forgotten time.  Thing is, that time was our time.

We laughed together as kids maybe more than you ever will. That’s a fact I can’t prove but the words speak for themselves. Things got exciting when Grady came to the lake. We were young- there were a million boats to ride and hillsides to climb. Later on, when we got cool, there’d be booze, of course, but much more humor. Ideas would flow between us as my cousins, Robin and David, gazed with Grady and I at star light or the flickering flames of a fire that needed one more log. The heat from our fires back then was unreal, and it always dispelled any notion we might have had that good times could ever end, that things could ever change, and even be forgotten. Grady had the spark we’d ¬†waited to see all day though few who are alive today could ever believe it, certainly never know it, or think that possible-he was a drunk. I suspect that’s what people will say, or think now.

Like my cousin Robin, or David, who bowed down to the power of booze, Grady was no different, but for his name, his life, and his spirit. Thing is, anyone who only reads the last chapters of a book and then claims to know what the entire story was about is wrong. Grady’s ending belies his life, a life attested to by so much that still stands today by our lake house,or, actually, inside it as well. His life stands inside my heart, too. You see, more than the painfully perfect rocks walls that Grady built along the road way to our camp, and those rock walls are a challenge to any who ever built one to try a do better, the dry wall of our camp loft and more were meticulously done by Grady. Forty-five years later, not a seam of tape is showing in those joints, and the fittings have always been perfect.

Grady, I owe you. Not just because my parents loved you so dearly, but because you gave so much when you could.

It gets down to this: I loved this guy. I loved hearing his unique voice, a raspy, deep woodmen’s sounding one, and the twinkle in his eye. When he spoke, people listened; and when he laughed the world did too. His rock walls at the lake will always be wonderful to see, a fond remembrance. Of course, only my cousin,Robin, may have drunk more, I don’t know. My cousin David may have taken a close third place. All are gone now. That is painful, but what really matters to me is that I will miss all three, and often hear their voices, their laughter, in the wind as it comes off the lake.

We had it all for a moment as we grew up together during our summer time spent at the lake camps-we were so young, and it was so much fun. Sunlight glimmered just for us.

Grady, I may be one of few who know how much you did for my parents, and for the beauty of the East Shore road up at Bonaparte. I may be one of the few left who remember you as a kid, with eyes shining bright and laughter so light. Thing is, I want you to know-I miss you already. You were honest, a friend during the years I wish I had back. I’d guess, most anyone who really knows you feels the same.

Goodbye Grady. I wish I could see you again. We’ll have to wait and see about that. We always wondered what would happen. Sometime, when I pass, we’ll know.

Franque23-
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