One year ago today, on Sunday, May 1, 2011, my grandpa, “Charlie” Lorey left us. After a 10 month battle with congestive heart failure and a wonderful Easter Sunday dinner, my grandpa’s heart could not bear the struggle no more. Shortly after 5:00 am on that Sunday morning, surrounded by his my grandmother, mom and uncle, he took his last breath. “A golden heart stopped beating, hard-working hands at rest.” A line from the back of his prayer card, that without question was my grandpa.
Retiring from one of the greatest jobs in the world Rhinegold Brewery, at the ripe old age of 45, thanks mainly to an injury on the job, he assumed a new job, grandpa. Growing up, my Grandpa Lorey lived about 15 minuets from our house. He always seemed to be around, whether my grandparents over our house or we over there, it just seemed like I saw him every day.
There were trips to the trailer, my grandparents have about 5 acres in Roxbury, NY. My grandfather was a hunter. He hunted deer. It seemed like every winter there was venison at one meal or another. I can still remember waking up and sitting in the little 10 x 50 trailer looking out the back window over the stream on a snow-covered forest waiting for my grandfather to appear with his prized catch. I can still see him in his hunting gear, bow over his shoulder walking through the woods with his two pointer fingers on top of his head like they were antlers. My brothers and I could not be happier. “Grandpa caught a deer!”
I can also remember as I grew up and was able to ride my bike on my own, I would take a ride weekly to their house. It was fun to ride to the other end of Glendale to visit. In the summer months, grandpa was always in his yard. Talking with the neighbors, working on his car or just working on stuff. He always had alot of stuff to do.
Then there were the summers in Baiting Hollow at the bungalow. The long walk to the beach and sitting on grandpa’s lap as he relaxed on his vinyl lounge chair. That was Woodcliff Park.
I remember when I was going to buy my first car, I made sure Grandpa Lorey was there to take it for a test drive. It was a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado, convertible, rust orange with a white top. It was beautiful. He thought it was too. But he told me in so many words and so nicely so that I would not but it. It went something like, “You know, this is going to burn alot of oil.”
The first time I changed my oil, he was there. The first time I fixed my breaks he was there. The first time I needed to change my alternator, he was there. My grandfather could take apart an engine and put it together, probably with is eyes closed.
Grandpa Lorey taught me how to shoot a .22, change a tire, sweat a pipe, run electric, use a bow and arrow, replace a rack and pinion. He taught me how to crab with chicken parts and a string, he made me my fishing pole, and he help me fix some stuff around the house.
The night before he died, he taught us how to be a family. One by one, all of his grandchildren made it to St. Francis hospital. We knew it was happening. He did to. We all had swollen red eyes, handful of tissues in our hands, lumps in our throats, but smiles on our faces. His one liners kept the room light, though our sadness was bringing it down. “So, this is what its like to die, all this waiting, well it’s some shit!” Singing some of Jimmy Durante’s “Inka Dinka Do”.
For those of you who knew him from my childhood, he was the one who would walk around sleeveless showing off his tattoos that had grown faded over the years. He was the one who would come and pick us up from school in is white 1968 Oldsmobile cutlass supreme with this latest catch on the back of the car. He was a deer hunter and a might fine one at that. Most of his catches were with his bow and arrow and it was the coolest to see that deer, gutted, with arrow sticking out, sitting on top of his trunk.
I could go on for ever telling stories about grandpa and what he was like. Those stories will be shared for years to come with Gabe. And those stories will be how he is remembered in my heart and mind. But I have just one more story that fits nicely with my hobby.
On Easter Sunday last year, my grandfather made the trip out east to have Easter dinner with us all. Surrounded by all of his family, some of us thought that this could be the last holiday together. His heart was weak and it was alot for him to make the stairs, but he did. We had his favorite meal, as we have been having for quiet some time on Easter, Suaerbraten. While it was not venison, it was a delicious piece of meat, the potato balls and the red cabbage made this a perfect meal.
As I always do, I pick the wine. There was some german reisling, some pinot noir, and some gamy noir. And one lone bottle of Cabernet Franc. Roanoke Vineyards 2008 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc. Buying futures is a bonus if you have the opportunity. I did and I am glad I did. At the time it was not released, it may have been too soon to drink, but I wanted to share this bottle with all and with the meal.
We all sat down for dinner and I made sure everyone had what the wanted to drink. I asked Grandpa what he wanted, he asked for a glass of wine, red to be specific. I grabbed what I was drinking, Gabby’s Franc. He just wanted a half a glass. With two sips he wanted more. When I came back to pour him another one, he said, “Michael, that is the best wine I have had in a long time, light and fruity almost sweet. Very delicious. Thank You.”
Wine creates conversation and builds memories. Every bottle that we drink is for a purpose. It rounds out a meal and makes everything about the event complete. I can forget about the story of that bottle, what went into it, how made it, how it was made. It is a fault of mine. Most of the time, what I remember most the occasions and the moments like I had with my grandfather. It is important to remember what goes into the bottle, but sometimes it more important to remember what you get out of the bottle.