My grandfather passed away this past weekend. He had been sick for a while now and had been in and out of nursing homes before he was transferred to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark a week or so before he passed early on Saturday morning.
The worst part is that I didn’t know too much about him, by the time I was old enough to remember my interactions with him he was already quiet, with a distinct weariness in his movements. As he got older and weaker, I learned more and more about how hard he had worked in multiple part time jobs and as a member of the Newark Board of Education to support his family, but I was only 11 or so and didn’t know what hard work, support or family really meant. I now know how important his virtues have been in laying the foundation for the core values that have been passed down to me.
By the time I started to understand, his speech had been severely altered and it was hard for me to imagine him as a strong, young, vital man. Though as I write this, memories of days and nights I spent with him and my grandmother in their East Orange home (now owned by his son and my uncle and where the repass was held) coming wafting through my thoughts and there is a distinct feeling of respect for his word. A lot of me begrudingly listening when he told me to go to sleep or come in for dinner. I can’t ever remember being mad or spiteful at him though and I think it was because I unconsciously knew his instruction was in my best interests.
Regardless, I will miss him and his presence and he will always be loved.
Ulysses Simpson Graves, Jr.
October 27 1923 – May 30, 2009