My grandfather passed away last week. I’m not writing this for people to feel bad or sympathetic, but I am writing to give him some love, because he was a really cool guy! And I have some pretty nice memories of him.
Let’s see. My grandpa’s name was Robert Lippincott Walter III. Yes, Lippincott. My lucky uncle and cousin got the same name gifted to them as well. So we’ve made it to the fifth of the Robert Lippincott Walter line. Congrats, to all five of you Robert Lippincott Walters. I’m sure that it was no easy feat to keep deciding to name your child that. You’d figure somewhere along the way someone would be like, “Uh yeah, we can just remove that weird middle Lippincott part. It would still count, right?” Nope, they stuck with it, and good on them.
The earliest things I remember of my grandpa was his really cool furniture, the music filling his house, and seeing a chipmunk for the first time in his backyard. 5-year-old me was thoroughly impressed by his style, which was way cooler than our traditional furniture in Houston, and by the creatures roaming his backyard. I was like “Shit man, my grandpa’s got style, great tunes, and has cool backyard furry friends!” I have a suspicious feeling that this may be why I like mid-century modern furniture. I do question why the chipmunk thing is burned into my memory, but they are pretty cute.
Grandpa was jolly, friendly, and an excellent storyteller. While in the hospital he told me about the time he and his friends nearly burned down a Boy Scout camp and got away with it (he may have lied to the camp leader). He also told me about scalping front-row tickets to a Pink Floyd concert, telling the scalper that if they were fakes he’d “hunt him down like a dawg.” The tickets were real, and Grandpa said that, “the concert was amazing, but the main problem was, with all those fancy people around...I couldn’t smoke dope.” SMH, Grandpa. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (maybe it skipped a generation).
A few weeks ago my mom and I went to check out a nursing home for him. The main thing I thought while walking around that place was, “Wow, my grandpa is way too fucking cool for this place.” I can’t say it’s very nice when you are walking around a nursing home thinking what losers people are. I’m sure they are lovely people, and maybe I’m just not that good of a person, but Grandpa was surely too cool for that place.
I used to impress my friends growing up, because one of my grandpa’s best friend’s was Santa. Yes, Uncle Skip, Grandpa’s bff, lived in Houston and was a Santa model. He was even on the cover of a magazine as Santa. He was the real deal. Skip would come to my family’s annual Xmas parties, where I was sure to keep it a secret from my friends that, “Uncle Skip was actually just one of Santa’s helpers” (my mom's words). 6-year-old me was like “Guys, welcome to my Xmas party. Come on in. Grab some juice. Yes, that’s really Santa AND he’s friends with my Grandpa. Yeah, I know. It’s fucking cool, right?” Just imagine if one of your best friends was Santa. You can only dream.
Some other fun memories were during my senior year of high school when I took my best friend and both of our boyfriend’s to stay with Grandpa & Grandma in Florida. When we arrived, he welcomed us and invited us to grab anything we wanted to drink from the fridge. He had stocked the fridge full of Coronas. Grandpa saw us wide-eyed, all 18-year-old and sweaty like, “OMG, umm, can we take one of those?!?” He winked at us and said, “I don’t even know what the drinking age is anyways.” I nudged my friends and was like, “See guys, I told you he was cool.” Later in the trip we spent half a day climbing a coconut tree and bashing open coconuts, which Grandma & Grandma kindly blended into piña coladas for us. For four kids with pretty straight-laced parents, from a pretty boring suburban town, this was a very memorable trip.
I think everyone who knew Bob would have a different memory to tell (and I'd love to hear them!), but all would involve similar themes; many laughs, many adventures, and many funny stories. These are just a few of my fond Grandpa memories, among many. Grandpa was a lover of horses, sailing, whiskey, and music--namely blues & rock'n roll. More than that, he was a lover of his family. He could not have been more proud of his three kids, six grandkids, and one great-grandkid. The world won’t be the same without Bob. We love you!