Grandpa: The Hero I Hardly Knew It is often in life that you do not learn how to fully appreciate something until it is gone. This was the case with my grandpa Gordon Preilipp, who passed away on the 26th of March 2001. He looked to be a vivid image of what the average, every man was supposed to be. However, Gordon Preilipp was nothing but ordinary.
My grandfather was a resident of Janesville, Wisconsin until the day of his death. He received average grades in school and after the 12th grade he enlisted in the United States Military. After returning home from the Eastern Front, he fell in love with an Army Nurse named, Norma Volmer, whom he married three years later.
My grandpa's military background may have contributed to the raising of his 5 children. My grandpa was always very interested in my sports events since his only son, was not interested in athletics and now is one of the leading medical authorities in the world.
He would drive all the way to Minnesota to watch my games and even if I didn't play well he would talk for hours about the way I ran, caught, shot, or tackled. He would show me a sheet of the things I did well and the things I didn't do well. My grandpa was an avid sports fan and I will always remember the games when our purple and white Vikings faced off against the green and gold Packers. After every Packers touchdown the phone would ring twice then, silence. It went without saying that the abrupt halt to the ringing was merely my grandpa calling to make sure that we were watching the game and noticed the Packer score. When I was in 7th grade I received my first 4.0 GPA and one day later my grandpa had overnight shipped a card congratulating me on the achievement. My grandpa showed me that my accomplishments, no matter how big or small do not go without notice.
When I was younger we would visit my grandpa's old farm more frequently and he would insist I come with him and his friends to the mall to walk and to have coffee and donuts. Even though he walked with a limp he acquired from a Nazi sniper he would whisk me onto his shoulders and proclaim to his friends, "Boys , this is Andy. He's going to grow up and start for the Packers!"ÃÂ. They would all give out a cheer and each one would have something to say to me. They then would sit for hours and talk about everything from politics to sports. As the years went on my grandpa's walking group grew smaller and smaller as former members passed away. It was at this point that I learned how emotionally strong my grandpa is and began to become seriously influenced by him.
In my grandfathers last few months on earth I was finally influenced so much that I believe it has altered the course of my life. I watched as his health began to decay but yet he would still keep up with all my athletics and academics. When I lettered academically again in 10th grade he called the following evening to tell me good work and to keep it up. Bit by bit his face became pale, his belly became smaller, his hair became thinner, but his heart was as big as ever.
When my grandpa was finally put into the hospital my family came to seem him for what we knew would be the last time. When he learned I had missed finals and a track meet he insisted I fly back immediately and that he would still be there when I returned. We stayed but selfishly I wanted to get back by the weekend so I could run on Sunday night. We left Sunday morning and the following evening my grandpa passed away with his wife and all five of his children at his bedside.
After the funeral I was asked by my grandma to help carry some of his old things from the basement because she was not strong enough. What resulted is something that has had a he impact on my life. In his basement I opned up his old army footlocker to find another trunk which I opened. When I did, papers burst onto the floor. I picked them up to find records and results of all my academic and athletic achievements from 2nd grade. Hand written notes on programs like, "Andy made a fantastic catch in the 3rd qt."ÃÂ. I found letters he written my mom but not sent reading, "Pat, I am so proud of Andy's accomplishments. He is everything I could want from a grandson and he will do just fine in life."ÃÂ. I find it ironic that I finally understood and appreciated my grandfather after it was too late. I now have been motivated by his heart, his encouragement, his dedication, and his support. Although it is too late to thank him for all the games he came to and all the support he showed, I wish he knew how much it meant to me. Unfortunately, I will no longer have the opportunity to get better aquatinted with him. Regardless, my grandfather, Gordon C. Prelipp, was unquestionably the greatest man I hardly knew.