Note: This is the speech I shared at my grandfather, Richard (Dick) Arthur’s memorial on Saturday November 24, 2018 in Marion, MA. This was written in order to share the wonderful memories many of us grandchildren have of this greater than life man.
I love you. It feels surreal to know that you’re no longer with us. I’m not sure it’s even fully clicked for me yet. As I stand up here in front of this crowd of people who loved you, were befriended by you and respected you I want to reflect on just a few of the amazing memories many of us share.
There is a quote, a common theme often talked about around family gatherings like Thanksgiving, It goes, “Food brings people together on many different levels. It is nourishment of the soul and body, it’s truly love.” by Giada De Laurentiis.
So I’d like to focus this speech around food.
Let’s start at the beginning. One of my very first memories of you and grandma Helen is that of the coffee grinder and the sweet promising scent of freshly ground beans. I would wake up and meet you two in the kitchen. You would pick me up and plop me on the counter so my feet dangled over the edge as you filled the old tan coffee grinder with beans. Then you would give me the honor - that's at least how it felt at the time - of holding down the button to bring the grinder alive. The sound and smell of fresh ground coffee to this day brings me back to that memory. And you always let me have some, even if it was loaded with milk and sugar. To me coffee was a treat, something special, it was a symbol of love, specifically from grandma and grandpa and its probably part of the reason I continue to love coffee to this day.
Pancakes. Now I know this is a shared memory of us grandkids. After you passed, us cousins shared memories and kept landing on your amazing pancakes. For those of you who don’t know these weren’t just any pancakes. See when we woke at grandpas house and emerged into the kitchen he was ready at the helm with pancake batter mixed, his apron on and a spatula in hand. He did however ask one important question, what shape was he to design the pancakes. Just like the wooden rocking horses he hand carved for each of his grandkids - his designs got better and more complex with time. As the first grandkid I remember hearts and mickey mouse shapes but within a few years he had advanced to cat shapes as Julia remembers, The Little Mermaid as Carolyn remembers and when Flora his youngest grandkid chimed in, she told me “Disney Princesses”. Clearly his talents had advanced and yes grandpas pancakes were the best of the best and I’m sure we can all agree.
Lobster. So I think it’s time to get away from the breakfast foods and onto the good stuff. Grandpa, like many of us loved fresh seafood as we can all understand. Grandpa, in particular had an affinity for good lobster. From what I’ve been told my parents even celebrated their wedding with a lobster bake here in town. But that was just the beginning. I didn’t realize it wasn’t typical of a 10 year old to not only know how to eat a lobster but also how to catch one since grandpa had lobster traps and my job was to put the rubber bands over their claws when he pulled them from the traps. In fact, my dad has a funny story he likes to tell of being out with friends at a restaurant where I commented aloud that I “was tired of lobster”. He went on to feel the need to explain that we were not rolling in cash, rather my comment came from eating freshly caught lobster at grandpas house. To this day I still use “I’ve been lobstering” in games of two truths and a lie.
Clam Chowder. We all know chowder is practically a competitive sport here. But of course my grandpas chowder was the best. Walking into his house with the giant pot of chowder on the stove was always welcome. Never too creamy or light and loaded with all the good stuff (including oyster crackers) he knew how to make it right and would make it all year round. Just like big holiday feasts, chowder always brought us together around the table spending time and talking with one another. That was something grandpa excelled at - bringing us together, sharing love and making everyone feel welcome.
Strawberry Shortcake. Now dessert. The sweet smell of biscuits baking in the oven was always the best way to finish off any meal because you knew strawberry shortcake was in the near future. As soon as they were out of the oven, us kids were called over in true Arthur family form. We would each grab a warm biscuit and load it with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Once again gathering around the table, each indulging in our own bowl of home baked love.
And I think this is where grandpa outshone us all. He truly loved people. He welcomed friends, family and strangers alike into his home as if they were his own. His strong spirit shone bright as he led a room full of people whether through a toast or one of his infamous stories. He was endlessly supportive and proud of his grandkids no matter what and I still remember being embarrassed in the general store as he bragged about my latest achievement. He trained the Arthur clan in the art of full body bear hugs even when it was awkward - and it continues to today every time we part ways. He loved and continues to love each of us.
And if I can speak to my cousins directly - it may take time or age but you will come to realize just how rare a love - a spirit like grandpas - truly is in this world. We were lucky - no blessed. All of us had different childhoods but we share the love of this man we celebrate today - and he held us together and will continue to be the example we hold onto into the future. This man knew true love with Nana and he chose to openly share it with all of us and for that I cannot say in words how much I love and miss grandpa.
Thank you Grandpa.
We love you.
Your “oldest granddaughter”,
Kathryn (also known as Kate as your wrote on every Christmas gift)