It has been a rough couple of months for my family in Florida. My stepdad died in October, and last night, my grandfather left us. My mom said he had been in bad shape for a few weeks now. I was lucky enough to see him when I was in town for David's memorial, and he seemed to be in pretty good spirits at the time.
Thaddeus Majusick, or Ted, as most people knew him, was my connection to another era when I was a kid. By the time I was old enough to pay attention, the world had become quite different than the world he grew up in. We were entering a time without war and people who hadn't served in one, the civil rights movement happened, gender roles were changing, technology was changing everything faster than ever.
His ability to evolve was one of the things I grew to respect about him in adulthood. He was probably among the last of his kind. He lived in the same house most of his life, and worked in the same job for years. He came home for lunch, where my grandmother dutifully had food ready for him on a TV tray, right out of a 50's TV show. He retired with a pension. He was the classic American dream, personified.
Grandpa served in the Navy, and it was always a part of him. As a kid experiencing the cold war, with Vietnam not even a memory, it was hard to relate to what it meant. If he did see life-threatening action, he never shared those stories with me, so to my child mind it seemed more like a bunch of guys working together to operate a very large boat. I'm really glad that's the way he painted that picture.
Against the odds, he was father to four daughters, though I can't say much about his role as a father, since obviously your grandparents tend to have adult children by the time you're born. Four girls. In a tiny house. Yikes.
He worked for a shop that machined parts for a variety of things, and he drew up the plans for many of these objects. He actually had a drawing board at home, which was always fascinating to me, especially when he had something on it that he was working on. I remember one thing in particular that he had a prototype for at home, a device with a motor that raised an antenna from horizontal to vertical, apparently for marine use. That something he drew by hand could be translated into something real was probably the foundation for my interest in mechanical things when I was a kid.
When I was very young, particularly in the years that my mom was single and working, Grandpa on occasion used to watch me and take me to do stuff on weekends. Back then, you could go to the airport, into the concourse, and CLE had an observation deck. He took me out there to watch the planes take-off and land. He also took me to NASA's visitor center, just next door. One of the coolest things was going on the train downtown, into the Terminal Tower, which was little more than a terminal and an office building back then. I can't emphasize enough the impact that these things had on my interest in the world.
He made terrible jokes and puns that you just rolled your eyes and ignored, and growing up in a different era definitely contributed him to saying unsavory things at times, but in the end I respected him for his life-long desire to learn things. I remember him wanting to learn Polish, at which point I think he was in his 50's. When he retired, he wasn't content to sit around, and I loved that he embraced using computers for drafting. I mean, the dude had a Facebook profile.
My grandfather was not a perfect man, but I think he lived a very fulfilling life. He deserves the rest. I'm glad I got to see him one last time.
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