Paul Springman went to sleep Sunday night and woke up in a much, much better place. Hopefully, he's sitting at the bar in the ultimate K of C council, drinking his third or fourth stein of Stroh's and taking pride in what and who he left behind.
The lapsednewsguy owes his grandpa a lot, which is sort of surprising considering that we couldn't have been more different. I run my mouth about everything, while my grandpa (whom I always called Hans for some reason) usually held his tongue unless it was really, really, really important. He endured the Great Depression and the slaughter of World War II in the Pacific and was grateful for the chance to raise his family and have a home. I still seethe because my boss fucked me out of a raise eight years ago.
He came home from the Pacific and worked for his pop at the family grocery store as a meat cutter. When Pop died in the early 50s, the grocery store succumbed to supermarkets, the suburban exodus and more than a few unpaid accounts receivable. Hans moved on to plumbing. He bartended on the side, too. By the he was 40, he had seven kids and a wife at home. He never laid in bed with a cold and often nodded off as he untied his boots after a long day on the job.
I can honestly say that the only mean words I ever heard from him came when he and Grandma fought (which wasn't rare and never amounted to much) and when I would get in a hurry on a jobsite and cut a piece of PVC too short.
He was a guy whose respect you treasured, not because his standards were high but because he did things the right way...no matter how long it took. One of the great honors of my life came on my graduation day from IU, when he braved the steep home stands of Memorial Stadium to watch me get my bachelor's degree...about three weeks before he finally got the hip replacement he had been putting off for a decade.
Alzheimers took his mind and spirit away and, to be honest, I grieved that loss years ago and was glad to hear yesterday that his body finally followed along.
Hans wasn't perfect; no man is. I could probably come up with a list of his faults if I thought about it, but they would pale in the his totality. Anyone who knew Hans was better for it, me very much included.
Rest in peace, Hans.