My Grandpa Armstrong (father’s side) was an amazing man. He died before I could truly appreciate him in the fullest sense of the word. I have the fondest of memories of “stealing” his chair when he got up and being “punished” with tickling upon his return, a game that I believe all children enjoy playing and reminds me so much of him. I remember his stories, ones that the whole family is kicking themselves for not having on some sort of video or tape recording of some sort. I remember the smell of his garage (when garages were still the “his” part of the property). There are precious few things I have to hold and look at and pass on to Ellen. Among them is this napkin holder that he was reported to have made en mass:

Napkin  holder

I love the handwritten inscription, as it is one of the only, if not the only thing I have in his writing, which I think is not unlike my father’s handwriting.

Bottom of napkin holder

I have just returned home from a really nice dinner at our friends’ house. Ellen goes to preschool with their twins and she is madly in love with both of them. A fact illustrated upon our speedy and ugly departure this evening. The conversation was just getting good when the children decided to re-appear.  Isn’t that always the case? We were talking about racism and other antiquities in our society (which is a sad statement as it is still regularly observed).  Part of the talk was about who, if anyone, is allowed to be ignorant in their views based on age. “My Great Uncle So-in-so is really sexist, but he is 80…what are you gonna do?” Grandpa Armstrong (most called him BJ or “Big Jim” since they had a son named Jim also) probably was a racist, and I am sure he probably would not have “approved” of a gay lifestyle, or would probably have issue with much of today’s culture, along with any number of judgmental points of view. His wife, the only living matriarch in my family at 96, probably feels much the same. But I cannot help but think that they would really love the couple that we had dinner with this evening.

Despite their obvious differences.