Last night I returned home from Johnstown, Pennsylvania after attending my grandfather, Stephen J. "Grampy" Loya's funeral. He passed away on the evening of the Fourth of July at the age of 94, which seemed only appropriate for my grandfather, who served in WW2 as a Naval air gunner in the South Pacific. It was sad news when my dad called about it on the fifth, but yet, he passed peacefully in his sleep, after having some trouble getting around in recent days, his mind still sharp. How rare it is to reach 94, in the shape he was in, and go the way he did. My grandfather actually had a very close call with death when his plane took a nose dive while serving in WW2, the pilot finally, in the nick of time being able to bring the jet up again, before nearly smashing into the ground below. I don't think he took a single day alive for granted after that experience.
While my grandfather was a great veteran, my brother and I always knew him as Grampy, who was a mailman, working for the U.S. Postal Service for forty years. We always attributed his health to the miles of walking he did in the country, out his way. He and my grandmother had a big, beautiful yard with a big tree and a tire swing my brother and I loved playing on. The view from their home went on for miles, and it seemed like the hills were endless as they would disappear into the horizon. Many times we'd see and hear horses back there too. I always loved their vegetable garden, where the best green beans in the world grew, I swear. After my grandmother died about a decade ago, we weren't sure he'd do so well, as he took her death hard, understandably. Within a couple of years after her passing, he couldn't keep up his home in Johnstown, PA, so he ended up moving out and in with some of our family in Plano, Texas. Eventually he moved into a care facility and did well, making new friends even in his old age. He was known to say that he was born too early, as he took to computers pretty quickly, and for a while sent lots of e-mails. He was considered a pretty quiet, tough guy, but he wrote some beautiful, thoughtful hand-written letters to us in his later years.
I'll miss him and wished I could have at least had a chance to visit him one more time before he went, but again, he went peacefully and was in very good hands. What else could one you ask for?