One Last Tribute to Richard “Lefty” Rzepkowski

Wed, 25 June 2008, 10:30 am

I’m just returning to the real life of home, work and responsibilities after 4 days spent mourning the loss of my grandfather. While I’ll remember him forever, I need to write down all that I’m feeling now while the pain is still fresh. I know that time heals, and time helps you forget the difficult emotions that come with losing a close family member. It’s just that right now, I don’t want to forget. Not yet.

Which memories are mine?
I listened all weekend to the fond memories of the generation before me. Grandpa’s boys, his daughter, his wife, his friends, his nieces and nephews. There were so many stories, so many one-liners, so many “lefty-isms” that encapsulated his life and influence. They are stories I’ve heard so many times though, it’s almost as if I were there. As if they were my memories. I had a hard time distilling what I had really been a part of and what was just a part of family lore. I struggled to put a finger on exactly what it was about grandpa that made me cry so hard when I saw his last sickly days 2 weeks ago when he didn’t recognize me. What was it that made it so difficult to see him in that casket?

His legend is great
These are the grandiose legends that you like to tell everyone about your predecessors. When we played volleyball together at family picnics and I thought I knew everything, he showed me the way he had done it as a young man – and he was good! When we fished together and I was having no luck, he could flick his wrist and have a fish. When we went hunting – my dad, my uncle and him, I was the one who could not steady myself for a shot and he would take one shot off hand and get it done. He was known for his creativity; having the patience to carve elaborate duck decoys and Christmas angels out of wood. I know exactly where I got my perseverance in my design career.

Kris and Grandma and Grandpa Rz at college graduation
Kris graduating from UB in 1997, with Grandma and Grandpa Rzepkowski.

His wisdom was greater
It was not his skill that was the best thing about grandpa though. I realize today that his wisdom is what I will miss most. He would always ‘teach a man to fish’ before ever taking an ounce of credit for anything that he himself had done. He was humble – much moreso than I can ever try to be. He spoke more with with his eyes than with his mouth. A wink of his eye was all you needed to know that he loved you.

Grandpa, if you are reading this blog entry from your place in heaven (which I doubt because your computer was ‘a pencil and a pad of paper’) this wink is for you.

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Read: 1 comment on “One Last Tribute to Richard “Lefty” Rzepkowski”

  • 1 Uncle Terry 08 July 2008

    Kris write down your thoughts so you can tell your children of the stories, and perhaps just as you, they too will hear them so much they will feel they were there.

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