So, my grandfather passed away a few weeks back. Not a big, life altering event for me (my grandfather might feel differently). However, Obama's recent awesome speech on race ((http://www.redlasso.com/ClipPlayer.aspx?id=d5d8169a-2779-4259-803b-5ee828b48835
) brought back a lot of memories of the old coot.
Now, my grandfather was the coolest, sweetest old Polish man in the world and would bend over backwards for any neighbor or family member in need. But, people of his age and demographic in the Polish neighborhoods of Toledo weren't exactly flag bearers of racial equality. Most of the ill will stems from the gradual transition of Polish working class neighborhoods into black working class neighborhoods. Over a number of years my grandfather's neighbors changed from the people who he grew up with that held the same traditions and rose their 2.5 children in a nuclear family to something quite different.
His overt "racist" acts were little more than referring to blacks as "Chahudnies" ("David, do you have any Chahudnies that go to school with you at college?" "Um, yes?") This term morphed into the code word "Canadians" among his sons - charming, no? Despite these occasional peccadilloes, I know of no one that did not love the man upon meeting him.
This brings back me to Obama's speech. All of us know people that say cringe worthy commentary - some of them are the most important people in our lives. However, they don't influence how WE think about race. We're all big enough boys and girls to think for ourselves. The cycle of perpetuating this stuff to future generations just is not happening (except for you homeschooling freaks). I'm convinced that America will continue to move to better place. Our grandkids will have their own cringing moments with us (I refuse to stop saying "gay" or "retarded" to describe things - too damn bad), but inexorably things will change for the better.
So back to the old coot - at his funeral procession, the hearse pulled into an alley behind the church with a half mile of cars following behind. As it turned into the alley, a garbage truck, driven by a black man and his two black, can-emptying associates blocked the path. 15 minutes went by as they lolly gagged their way down the alley as if they were Tip O'Neill in a St.Pats parade. Finally, as they left and we pulled in front of the church, my uncle said, "You know your grandfather is just spinning in there, mad as hell at those Canadians." Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?
Later, as he was being laid to rest, a color guard of WWII vets shot off a salute (yup, my gramps killed Nazis - told you he was a cool guy).
Just then, by coincidence, 2 F-16's roared overhead - Proof that God still loved the old man.
If God existed, that is. But that's a topic for another time.