Yesterday the world lost an amazing man. My grandfather was the first artist I knew. He painted these amazing pictures that hung in his home. Some were a little creepy (those heads that he wrapped up for Christmas gifts last year), but the landscapes were amazing. I remember being little and learning how to draw the Looney Toon and Disney characters from him. He should have been a cartoonist because his pictures looked exactly like they were supposed to. He used to watch that weird painter on channel 11 with the big afro. You know who I'm talking about, but I can't remember his name. Bob something-or-another.
I used to sleep over at his house when I was little and would wake up in the morning to my grandma's home made breakfasts and would watch cartoons with my grandpa. He would make this figures out of seashells that he collected on his many fishing trips to Florida. I loved those seashell creatures. We would put together jigsaw puzzles that had thousands of pieces. It amazed me.
He was such a fine sportsman. He bowled and skeet-shooted and fished. He had so many trophies displayed in his house. I would be in awe as I sat in his old dining room, looking at the hutch containing his (and my grandma's) many awards.
He was a model husband. He met my grandma at the movies, told us the story a thousand times of how they met (and how my grandma robbed the cradle by marrying a much younger man). He loved my grandma so much. He loved her until the end of her battle with Alzheimers and beyond. It was so touching to see how much he missed her after she passed away.
He was a fantastic father. My mom and aunts have lots of cute stories about him in his younger years. He had the patience of a saint (and needed it when raising four rambunctous girls).
He was a sweet grandfather and great-grandfather. When he was around my kids he would light up and giggle at their silly kid-like antics. He loved to play with them and make jokes and smiled at them! You know how kids are usually scared of old people? My kids were never like that with Grandpa Fries. He had this really warm smile and demeanor that drew kids to him. I found that fascinating about him. The picture above was the from the last time I saw him. It was last year around this time. We visited him at his apartment in Florida. Even though we woke him up way past his bedtime to visit for a short time, he was still sweet and kind and so welcoming. He showed Matt the picture in his bedroom from when he was in the army and told Matt about it. He still played with Lily and joked with her about her face painting that was done earlier in the day at Animal Kingdom. He looked at sweet baby Zoey alseep in the stroller and commented about how small and sweet and peaceful she was.
He will be missed dearly by so many people. He was a wonderful man. I loved him very much.
God Bless you, Grandpa.