Sunday, July 4, 2010


We received word, still away on our trip to New Jersey, that Grandpa died last night: my father-in-law, the boys' grandfather, the only grandfather they were privileged to know, as my own father, who would have loved them so much, died before they were ever born. We had celebrated his 99 1/2 birthday just last weekend.

Grandpa is the Grandpa of my Gus and Grandpa books. Although many things that happen in the books are fictional, the character of Grandpa himself is completely true to life. The books celebrated many of our Sunday afternoon pleasures on our weekly excursions down to Grandpa's home in Golden: baking cookies, watching the train go by across the street from his front door, playing with his dog, Shadow (Skipper in the books), searching for well-worn treasures in his closet and back shed.

Like Grandpa in the books, real-life Grandpa was hard of hearing and would turn his hearing aid down when the boys got too noisy, so he never needed to mind their youthful enthusiasm. In one of his trademark Grandpa lines, he once remarked that his hearing aid was broken, but he was waiting to get it repaired "until after the election." Like Grandpa in the books, real life Grandpa was an avid fisherman, lover of opera, and faithful friend to my boys through whatever life brought our way.

Grandpa got a kick from starring in the books. "People pay money for this?" he asked me when I presented the first one to him. He was especially delighted by Catherine Stock's illustrations for the series: "What does she have me doing this time?" Although Catherine had never met Grandpa, or seen a photo, her illustrations of him are remarkably like the man himself - with one exception: Grandpa in the books has a mustache, while real-life Grandpa did not. But then real-life Grandpa went out and grew a mustache to match Catherine's art.

It is hard for me to imagine Sunday afternoons with him.


  1. Condolences Claudia. Hope you and your family(ies) are okay!

  2. Claudia, Grandpa had a nice long life, didn't he? I read all the Grandpa books, so I know he was a wonderful person. He will always be alive in your books. Peace, Carol Linda

  3. Claudia, What a beautiful tribute to an important man in your life and how lucky he was to know how important he was to you and your boys.

  4. Claudia, I'm so sorry to hear about your boys' Grandpa. That is so sad.

  5. Thinking of you during this difficult time. I know Grandpa must have loved Sunday afternoons as much as you and the boys did... Much love, Amanda., Henry, and Michael

  6. please accept my condolences. You've had a lot of sadness and loss in recent months. thinking of you, love- Naomi