Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gregory Theodore Joseph

...that's how Gram used to call him whenever he was being, well, obnoxious, similar to the way parents use "the middle name" when their children are in trouble. Gregory Theodore Joseph Dryz, 9/14/15 - 6/22/06, father of 8, grandfather to 16, great grandfather to 18, was one of the most interesting men I ever met.

I thought he was the smartest man alive, maybe even smarter than God. He used these HUGE words in conversation with me, grandchild #5 ( I think), and WOW did that make me feel like I was smarter than the average bear - why? Because I was too floored by the enormity of the words, to realize that I was supposed to be puzzled by their meanings. I smiled and nodded and smiled some more. I'm drawing a blank on the words he used, but let's just say my grandfather could do the New York Times crossword puzzle, pretty much in one sitting. I swear he memorized the dictionary and was a personal friend of Roget and helped write the thesaurus with him.

<>Gramp could build and fix ANYTHING. He was always tinkering with something, always had some project on the workbench in the basement. He built beautiful dollhouses for my cousins, my sister, and me. The really neat thing was that they were mansions in our eyes. No one else was lucky enough to have a "Grampa Dollhouse", no way. He made those for us. For all we knew, he cut down the tree himself, whittled, carved, crafted, sanded, painted, and decorated each and every house with all of the love and care that he had.

Riding in the car with Grampa was always a treat. He had a "candy machine" in his car. Well, it was more like a tupperware that he kept stashed in the armrest, but he called it a candy machine, and dammit, we sure thought that's what it was. It was always full of Brach's anise candy - the little square red ones in red wrapper. If we weren't in the mood for anise, there were always a few butterscotch candies that he kept in there for Gram. I don't ever remember a time when the candy machine was empty. Gramp also had one of those bobbling compasses on his dash. It was many many years before I actually knew what it was and what purpose it served. I just thought it was a part of the car (especially since it would reappear in each new car). I would sit in the backseat listening to the music, WFMT, WBEZ, and watch the the letters change from E to N to W to S....and just thought it was something special Gramp's car did.

We always thought we were richer than anyone else - when we were riding in Gramp's car, that is. It was always a Lincoln...each new car was always a Lincoln (of course, the car dealer was his next door neighbor). The car was big and cushy, plenty of room, and to us, it was a limo and he was our driver.

I know that my grandfather worked, but as a child, if he wasn't at home, he was at church. My family helped to start the parish, sending a letter and petition to the archdiocese with 1000 signatures asking for a church, Gramp was a permanent fixture at St. Louise where he was an usher for - I think - 50+ years, head usher for 33. We always sat in one of the back pews when we went to church, I never understood why, I just thought we had the "special seats". Really, it was so because thoe were the pews reserved for the ushers, and so that we could all go to communion together after Gramp had finished sending each row before us. We got to stay "after church" and lock up. We got to see all of the "hiding places" in the church, the usher's closet, the broom closet - hey, when you're a kid that stuff's pretty neat. After mass, Gram & I would stand around and chat with all of the parishioners. She would tell them which granddaughter I was, and to which daughter ("This is Robbi's daugher") I belonged and I would be so proud...I felt like I was something extra special. My grandparents were both highly involved in the workings of their church, but right now, I'm totally drawing a blank, so I'll come back to that another day.

I remember sitting in Gramp's chair, when he wasn't in it, of course, holding the newspaper (which I couldn't read yet) and pretending to snore....yep, just like Gramp. The chair, which has sat at my mother's for a few years, used to seem enormous. Sitting in it, one would feel engulfed, wrapped up in it's warmth and comfort. It has been reupholstered many times. I can remember at least three shades of the chair, yellow, bright orange, and a burnt orange - with the bright orange, of course, being my favorite. It had a coordinating ottoman which could be adjusted to each person's comfort. Well, THAT was one of our favorite things to play with. We would turn it upside down and play with the metal bar, thinking that we were tinkering with something and creating something.

So many times we would get started talking to Gramp and it seemed like there was never going to be a way out of the conversation. He could talk forever about anything. I swear, the man had so much knowledge locked up in his head that he needed to share all of it with everyone before he left us....probably starting well before the grandchildren came to be. Boy, we'll all be missing those conversations. He knew everything there was to know about everything.

I have so much more to say, but my mind is running through everything that I have to get done in the next hour and half before trying to squeeze in a gig with the band before spending the day- and most of the evening - at the wake. Trying to get all of the kids clothes found (huge piece here), pressed, ready (including finding the shoes and socks!), practicing the music for the service tomorrow - yep, I'm singing just like I did for Gram's (if you think about it tomorrow around 9:30 CST, throw a little thought, vibe, or prayer my way so I make it through the music without bawling my eyes out -maybe I just won't put my contacts in so I can't see anyone)...ok, I'm babbling.

Gregory Theodore Joseph Dryz was a truly amazing man who touched SO many people. He lived a long and full life, raised 7 wise and wonderful daughters, buried a son, loved and cherished his wife for as long as she graced us, 62 years of marriage, buried her, and kept on for almost six more years before she finally called him..."Gregory Theodore Joseph, don't you think you've more than made sure those girls will be just fine without us there? Let's go. It's time."


Laura said...

I'm sorry about your Grandpa. I lost my Grandma last summer, and I know how hard it is. Lucky for your family that they get to listen to you sing at such a time as this. Hang in there - we will be thinking of you!

Octoberbabies said...

Be well, Gregory Theodore Joseph.


Wade Rankin said...

That was a wonderful tribute for a wonderful man. Be comforted in the sharing of your joy of your life with him.

Anonymous said...

I lost my last Grand parent by the time I was 4 or 5.Lost my Mom at age three but had my Dad around till the milleniun came in.
You gals were very fortunate that you had your grampa Dryz, He stood in for not only me but for several other errant fathers of the clan.
He will be happy now. I can just hear him joshing and tring to get you all to calm down in that gravely voice of his. I know he will be missed. He would want you to carry on. There's a lot of things to be Tinkered with left in the world. So, get to work.
Love you much and truley feel bad about the loss for you Mom amd her sisters. Dab

Roni said...

Your closing was so sweet that I'm in tears. Much love to you & the family.

marti (standing still for once) said...

Hey, Mama. Blessings to you for having a Grampa to hold for so long, and for him knowing punkins. May your Grampa and My Gramma and Meem's Mom all get together and laugh alot at all of us this summer when we finally meet! BTW, singing at a family member's funeral is pretty darned hard, but I'm sure if anyone is up for it, you are!

K.C.'sMommy said...

I am so sorry about your Grandpa. Our prayers are with you and your family.


Paul said...

You are beautifully blessed. Thanks for sharing this great post. I admire your confidence in knowing where he now is.

MSUgal86 said...

Any man who stayed married for so long and loved so many people deserves recognition. What a great tribute.

Lora said...

I am sorry about your Grandpa, what a wonderful man he was indeed, and what a fitting tribute it was to him. I am also sorry for not having been by your blog in such a long time. I miss you and all the smiles that I would get from reading your blog or from you visiting mine and leaving comments for me. I hope that all is well with you and that you are having a fantastic summer. I noticed that it has been awhile since you've posted, I hope that means that you are busy, in a good way.
Big HUGS to you and the family :)

Pseudo Supermum said...

I'm worried about you - your blog has gone silent! I do hope all is well with your corner of the world? Maybe you're having a vacation - I hope so, as I'm sure you need it.