Wednesday, January 09, 2008

William Barney Balka

Just a handful of pictures and a few words...that's all I really know about my grandpa's life. Maybe the fact that the details are so few and far between is what makes each one so lovely and sweet. He made so many normal moments that would generally be considered unimportant...feel important.

He would take me for rides to the post office and A&W root beer floats (a tradition that I only now realize was the driving force behind his yearly contributions to my ever-growing stamp collection).
He bought me my first watch.
He taught me how to fish.
He shared his love of dogs with me.
His favorite candy was "circus peanuts," though he could eat anything sweet.
He called me "punkin" and always listened when I talked about my life.
He didn't talk a lot.
He was usually a silent presence. Strong. Steady. Unless he had a joke to tell. Then he could laugh big bold laughs that would make everyone around him laugh. (He loved to catch people off guard by answering the phone with, "City morgue...you stab'em we slab'em," like it was a normal greeting.)

He saw things as a marine that would destroy lesser men. He saw things he never talked about. But he still found reasons to smile in this world. He was a marine through and through...



He was a husband and father...



He was my grandpa...



He was OUR grandpa...


After years of health problems Grandpa died peacefully in his sleep this morning. He joins his wife and two great-grandsons in death.

I hope that wherever he is, he knows how much we love him and how much we're going to miss him.

26 comments:

Everyone Has a Story... said...

He knows you love him.

What a wonderful tribute to what sounds like a great man. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

Jill said...

I'm so sorry you have lost yet another loved one Catherine. Your tribute is beautiful.

Julie said...

I'm sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful man.

Kathy McC said...

may your grandpa rest in peace. I am very sorry.

sarahbobeara said...

i'm so sorry, kate. :(

so many memories to replay in your head though. i remember those A&W floats...no way sonic can compete with those.

he's awfully smiley for a marine, i thought they were all hoo-yah and stuff ;) he looks like he was a very likable guy, morgue jokes & all :)

The Cartoonist's Wife said...

It sounds like he left quite a mark on the world! Including you.

JMB said...

I'm so sorry for your losss, but am happy for you that you got to spend time with what sounds like quite a cool guy. I have a hunch he knew/knows how you feel.

Aurelia said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, but I am so glad you have good memories of him. Memories can be a wonderful thing at a moment like this.

MB said...

He sounds like a wonderful man and someone we would all be better for having known. Hugs to you and your family.

miraclebaby said...

So sorry for your loss. ((hug))

Becky said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds as though he was an amazing person.

Julia said...

I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a towering presence.

delphi said...

Your grandpa's phone greeting made me giggle. What a lovely man. I am sorry he is no longer with you in body, but it is obvious his spirit will touch your life forever.

Ruby said...

I'm sorry.

He sounds like an incredible person.

Kathi said...

I'm so sorry my friend.

Marcia said...

Catherine, I am so very sorry for the loss of this wonderful man in your life! Is this the husband of the Grandma you lost a year or so ago? I remember you also wrote a very touching tribute to her as well. I pray that your wealth of memories will bring you and your family much comfort in the days ahead. I'm sure he knows that you loved him with the same deep love he demonstrated toward you.

Holley said...

Hugs Cathy.

I'm sorry for your loss, but I feel happy reading your wonderful memories of him.

Big hugs.

Bon said...

oh Catherine, i'm sorry. for the loss of your Grandpa, and for the fact that this is another loss in so few years.

you write beautiful tributes. thanks for letting us celebrate your family with you.

Diana said...

RIP to your Grandpa. My condolences to you and your family.

Angel Mom said...

I'm sorry.

Shinny said...

Catherine,
I am so sorry for your loss.

kate said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your grandpa.

Rosepetal said...

Catherine, thinking of you after the loss of your Grandpa

The McMommy said...

Beautiful
Thank you for sharing and my condolences.

Jelly-Filled said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandpa.

The stories and pictures are wonderful. It's so amazing to see your grandfather's face reflected in the faces of your sons.

dbm/gaa said...

Oh Catherine, how sad! And strange, too, my grandfather died on the 8th.

Thinking of you.