Friday, March 26 2010, at approximately 11:20pm my grandfather Henry Mead passed away. Gramps had chosen to be cremated and his wishes were followed. A memorial will be April 17th at Highlands Community Church in Renton starting at 10am with a reception to follow. If you would like more information about the event, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
So I know you've probably read the obituary in the Seattle Times. I thought I would share a little more from my own personal memories. Gramps rolled into Renton in the late 30's with his 6 other siblings: Leanard, Grace, June, Ethel, Hank, Bob, and Helen. With the passing of gramps, only Bob and Helen are still with us. In his home-town of Aberdeen South Dakota, gramps was raised on the family horse farm. But the depression had hit the area hard and the government finally arrived to inform gramps' parents that they were taking the farm. Gramps tells the story of the government officals shooting the horses and then informing the family they had 30 days to leave.
The family gathered up and came to Renton for work. The work they had in mind was at the Renton Boeing plant. Gramps's father set all the kids to work and then collected their paychecks at the end of the week. Gramps first job was when he was 11 or 12.
The family worked through the war boom, but gramps had other ideas. In 1944 gramps lied about his age (at the time 16) to join the Army. But with the war winding down gramps had just engough time to finish boot camp, serve a little time at Fort Lewis and then receive his honorable discharge. He did look good in that uniform.
While all this was going on, my grandfather met my grandmother LaVerne. Granny and gramps were married in 1945. Nearly 65 years of marriage. After his discharge and marriage gramps went to work for Puget Power. He got the hook-up in the Renton shop via George Runions his brother-in-law (Ethel). After just a couple years though he found opportunity to land a serviceman job in the Factoria shop. And being a serviceman was what gramps wanted to do! So in about 1956 gramps became one of the first servicemen out of the Factoria shop. He stayed at the Factoria shop until he retired.
Around the early 60's ('63 or '64 we recal) granny and gramps built the house that they still live in. Us grandkids grew up knowing that house well. For me, every Friday night granny would pick me up from school and I would spend the night. Granny notoriously would pan fry me pork chops, hash browns, apple-sauce and ice-cream. The best part was then either Friday night or on Saturday morning gramps would take me to work with him! I felt as though I was the envy of every kid around. Who else of my friends got to roll around in a $500K huge yellow work truck with a power ladder? Don't tell anyone this but as I got older, gramps use to send me up the ladder to change street lights on my own. HA the nanny state today would have a fit.
During the 70's my grandparents bought two parcels of vacation property. The first one I only have some small memories of (though I did love it!). On Hood Canal in the south Puget Sound they had bought a small A-frame cabin right on the water. It was surrounded with lots of forest and things to explore. The water left thick silty mud on the canal floor so when the tide went out we had good oysters to eat right off the beach... if you could wade through the mud to get there. On numerous occasions I remember taking all my grand parents dogs out on walks and seeing deer and black bear! I loved the small sloughs that harbored such delicate life like small fish and other aquatic life. But the A-frame slowly fell to the way side as we started spending more and more time at the beach property on the pacific coast. We all built that cabin from scratch. I have many memories growing up of starting the construction and later sleeping in the cabin in various states of completion. We had the good fortune of having neighbors that were friends of my grandfather, Frank Ziegler.
My grandparents loved to travle, and it seems never did quite as much as I think they would have liked. They took my cousins on several trips including a Grand Canyon tour. They also took my brother and I to Disneyland! After retirement my grandparents set off to see some more of the world. They toured by air and water. Taking several cruises to the Carribean, and Alaska, and travelling to Europe where my grandmother had the chance to explore her Welsh heritage.
I have far too many memories to ever be able to embody on just one page of my website. Gramps and Granny were amazing influential roles in my life. I always knew my grandparents loved me through the actions they did to help me, my brother, and my parents.
Toward the end my grandfather developed prostate cancer which in most men his age is very common. I was with him when we recieved that diagnosis late one night in the ER at Overlake. Doctors assured us it was going to be ok. However his cancer metasticized as Metastatic Bone Cancer which was unexpected. However it wasn't exactly the cancer that he finally passed from. Though possibly related to the cancer, gramps in early March suffered a "cardiac event" that the doctors think may have been a small heart attack. But what it did would set in motion the last of his days. His now permanently damaged heart was not moving enough blood and it caused other things to start failing. Specifically his liver and kidneys together. This combination of failures left doctors with little to no opportunity to help. Thankfully gramps was fully aware of the situation. Pain-free and still with a sharp mind he and mom and I discussed our options. He decided he wanted to go somewhere that could help him. We found an amazing small home that cared for him during his last two weeks of life.
The family would like to emphasize that gramps didnt suffer at all. He was pain-free right to the end.
I hope these few memories help you know who my grandfather was to me. I wish I could write so much more but it would fill an entire website. I love my grandfather so much, and being there for him in the end to help him and care for him was just a small way of my telling him that I am so thankful for his presence in my life. I love you gramps.