Goodbye Grandpa (or Remembering A Full Life)

Early on Thursday morning, my grandpa passed away.

As you are reading this, I’m in San Diego spending time with my family. Our focus is on my grandma and making sure that she is ok and that everything that needs to be taken care of is done.

But I wanted to share with you all how badass my grandpa was. He and I had a complicated relationship, but he loved me and I loved him. And he really did live so much in his 92 years (he would have turned 93 next month).

I don’t know a ton about my grandpa’s childhood. I know that he wrote down his history and his family history on his computer somewhere, and I hope that we are able to locate that document. I really want to have that myself so I can remember where he came from and what happened when he was young.

Grandpa young

My grandpa was not someone who talked about the past a lot. In fact, I had no idea that he was in Germany in WWII fighting the Nazis until he was talking about it maybe 5 years ago.

Grandpa WWII

When he and my grandma got married they first lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Grandpa Lake Charles

They lived there for a while (my mom, aunt, and uncle were all born there) before moving to LA.

I’ve been to their houses in LA before, but sadly I don’t have any photos of that on my computer. But they lived in the valley and had some really cool houses.

Grandma and Grandpa

While they lived in LA, they lived it up! My grandpa got a boat and he, my grandma, my mom, my aunt, and my uncle sailed on it a lot. I’ve heard so many stories from their time on the boat, especially when they were in Catalina. My favorite story is actually one about my mom when she was hit in the face with a flying fish one evening in Catalina. But I think my entire family thinks that story is pretty awesome.

He also loved to fly. He flew a small plane that was just big enough for the family.

Grandpa Plane

They flew all over the US on lots of different trips. They would fly to Louisiana to go back to visit family and my mom, aunt, and uncle got to travel the US by plane quite a bit. I think that if he could have flown that plane for the rest of his life, he would have.

Once my grandpa retired, they moved down to San Diego. But even in retirement, my grandpa never slowed down. He designed the backyard and swimming pool at their house, and I don’t think that anyone could have done it better. And they had the best orange trees and the orange juice was freshly squeezed every visit.

Grandpa House Rancho Santa Fe

I think if I had to pick one of his favorite things to do, it would be to travel. My grandparents always seemed to go on these epic trips, both within the US and internationally. My grandpa traveled to all 7 continents (even Antarctica!) and inspired me to hope to do the same in my lifetime.

Grandpa Travels

Sometimes my parents, my brother, and I was lucky enough to get to join my grandparents on the trips they did. One of the most epic trips that we did as a big extended family was to go to Africa together.

50th Anniversary in Africa

This trip was for my grandparents’ 50th anniversary. All 3 generations (this was way before my cousin had her kids) of the family were there to experience the safari together. Besides my grandparents’ anniversary we also celebrated my parents’ 15th anniversary, my cousin’s 15th birthday, and my 14th birthday while we were in Africa. That was definitely one of the best birthdays that I ever had. My grandpa really wanted all of us to go to Africa together because he had loved it there when he and my grandma went before and he wanted to make sure that we could all experience it as well.

But more than traveling, he loved my grandma.

Grandma and Grandpa 60th Anniversary

Last September they celebrated their 67th anniversary and they seemed in as much love as ever.

Grandma and Grandpa 67th Anniversary

Last Thanksgiving, almost everyone in my family was able to be together (only one cousin wasn’t able to make it). We took a family photo after dinner and I’m so glad that we were able to get one more (almost) full family photo.

Thanksgiving 2014

While I am sad that my grandpa passed away, I can only admire how full of a life he lived. He really maximized every day that he had and I don’t think that he had any regrets of things that he wasn’t able to do (except maybe to keep flying a plane later in life).

I will always remember my grandpa as the one who got me to drink martinis (and I got him hooked on blue cheese stuffed olives), who loved to email dirty jokes to the entire family, and the one who gave me my love of traveling.

Thank you Grandpa for everything that you did for our family and for loving us all as much as you did. I know that there will be a hole in our family now that can’t be filled. But we will all try to live life to the fullest to honor how you lived your life.

Grandpa 60th Anniversary

Robert Joseph Fry (May 29, 1922-April 2, 2015)

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