Three Life Lessons From A Man Who Hated Life
My grandfather was a complicated man.
Born in Chicago in 1923, his formative years were among the most turbulent in American history. Upon graduating from high school, he followed in the footsteps of millions of American men and enlisted in the military. The Navy specifically — stationed on a swelteringly hot island off the coast of New Zealand.
Though away from the wars European epicenter, his troupe endured countless waves of airstrikes from Japanese bombers. The only thing keeping him sane was the thought of one day returning home to his new wife, my grandmother, whom he married shortly before deploying.
Following his return to American soil, he and my grandmother had a couple of kids before relocating to Milwaukee where they had their third and final child, my father, in 1959. Together, they bought and ran a tile store in Milwaukee, a job he hated, to support their family. Meanwhile, his younger brother Shecky Greene was thriving in Las Vegas, well on his way to becoming one of the greatest comedians of his time (though to ask anyone who knew them both, my grandfather was much funnier).
My family adopted me in July of 1997, weeks after my birth in mid-June. As far as I know, my grandparents sold their store by then and were ‘enjoying’ retirement. I put ‘enjoying’ in parentheses because, to many, my grandfather didn’t enjoy a whole lot.
The stress of war, an unsatisfying career, and a rich yet less talented younger brother left a bad taste in his mouth that turned him into your stereotypical “grumpy old man”.
Growing up in the same city as my grandparents, I spent a lot of time with them as a child — particularly with my grandfather. We had a lot in common. He was a drum enthusiast who, like me, never missed a chance to bang around on whatever he could grasp.
He also loved to fish.
Apart from my grandmother, fishing was the great love of his life. More specifically, fishing with his family.
It was on those fishing trips that I spent a significant amount of time with him. Through those experiences…