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RIP Gerald H Nelson

My step-grandfather passed away last night. He had been ill for awhile and it was his time. He had had medical issues for a long time, but in the end it was probably good that he went as quickly as he eventually did. It could have easily been one of those deaths that drag on brutally for weeks or months.

What I think of now is his cabin in Mexico where he lived for the last several years with my grandma. He bought the place for a song back in the 60s and my family been visiting there since I was a little kid. Somewhere there are pictures, taken in that cabin, of a five-year-old Ryan flying through the air onto a pile of beanbag chairs. I remember also one time riding around in the back of his restored 1944 Willys Jeep (equipped with hand-routed sand tires), sitting on the same beanbags, forgetting to hold on while Grandpa took off from a stop sign, and thus tumbling astonished out onto the sand behind. I wasn't hurt, and luckily the Jeep is not particularly fast, so I wasn't forgotten.

It's the little things that stand out at a time like this. My thoughts are with my grandma and the rest of my family, who were there at the end and are now sorting things out.

UPDATE: I should give a little context. My biological grandfather on my father's side died in 1964, and Gerry married my grandma in 1966, so he's the only grandfather I've ever known on that side. Since both my mom's parents died in 1995, he and Grandma were the only ones left.

He could be an abrasive and opinionated man, but he tried in his own way to do good things for my family. You only get one family, and I love mine. Godspeed, Grandpa.


  1. Someone once told me that death is less of an end as it is a resolution. The memories you've shared in this post (and the ones which you carry with you) emphasize their simile. It is important for all of us faced with loss to confront the vacancy with an overriding sense of fulfillment and appreciation. You honor your grandfather with your words. Best of fortune to you and your family in light of his passing.
    - Maximum Worf

  2. Dear Ryan, what a lovely eulogy for your step grandfather. My condolences to you and your family on your loss. When I was a child, we had a Willys Jeep too and I sat on a child-size folding chair in the back with my brothers. We got jostled around a lot and used to hang out the back window right over the exhaust. Those were the days. :-D B

  3. Oh, ryan, sorry you don't get any more time with your grandpa. How Sucky to be so far away. My utmost empathy and support is with you.

  4. Oh, ryan, sorry you don't get any more time with your grandpa. How Sucky to be so far away. My utmost empathy and support is with you.


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