I realize that most people will remember their grandfathers as the sweetest men on earth. But I will go ahead and say it: My grandfather really was the sweetest. Really, he was.
In 2003 , Willie was left nearly speechless by a stroke. Yes, he became more dependent upon family members, but he never failed to find ways to be helpful. At family gatherings, he made sure everyone’s drink was filled. He had an extensive liquor cabinet, and a good memory for cocktails.
He used any occasion as an excuse to find something special at the jewellery store for Marge, my Grandma. He attended our graduations, and hugged his grandkids tightly. Without words, he was able to find ways to tell us that he loved us, was proud of us.
I suspect that making wine was, for Willie, a way to show how much he loved his friends, his family. Long before I could drink the stuff, myself, and long before he lost his speech, he was notoriously generous with his homemade wine. I’m not sure there was ever a visit when my parents didn’t come home with a bottle, or twelve, of the stuff.
Willie died last August, exactly a year and a half after Marge. My dad found this bottle of homemade crab-apple wine in the basement stash. It’s old, from 1995, and amber coloured. You wouldn’t necessarily think that homemade fruit wine ought to last that long, but it did. We opened the bottle yesterday. It was delicious, sweet, and as Grandpa would have it, nice and boozy