Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Memory Of Howard Strayer, 1933-2012

I saw Grandpa as a sort of superhero. As early as I can remember, my Mom told me that I was choking on a piece of food when I was a baby, he was the first one who noticed. He picked me up and dislodged it somehow. Even though I don't actually remember it happening I have a little movie about how I imagine things went down stored in my brain. I always saw him through that lens, this source of incredible strength and calmness.

When I was a kid and we would come up to visit, it was a big deal that Casa Grande had its own Walmart, and the whole extended family would roam around the store for what seemed like hours. One time, when my little sister Laura was probably 4 or 5, she wanted a teddy bear that cost $8. "That's stupid," I said. "No teddy bear is worth $8." He put me in my place by saying, "Well, it might be. That depends on how bad the buyer wants it." That lesson stuck with me as much as anything I learned four years of business school.

The closest we ever got was when I was 13 and my sisters and I took turns spending a week with him and Grandma during the summer. I was freaked out about going to high school, and his words of reassurance were "I remember back when I was a hairy freshman. Don't think I'd like to try that again." Then he laughed. It was a short conversation but made me feel a lot better, as if he was saying, "Yep, it will be tough, but I got through it and can laugh about it, and so will you."

That week we did some puzzles together - Grandpa always enjoyed logic puzzles and had a big box of them - and he would suggest books. I spent a bunch of time watching cartoons on TV. When Popeye came on, Grandpa would wander in and watch with me. He told me he remembered them from when he was a kid. He would make comments and it occurred to me that his manner of speaking and the sound of his voice were a little like Popeye's. Grandpa was also like Popeye in that he was strong - as strong as I could ever imagine a man to be.

1 comment:

Alan said...

I wandered over here from consumerist - sorry to hear about your loss Phil. Best of luck to you at GuySpeed.