My wife’s grandfather, Winston Erlandson, passed away on Wednesday.
Since local newspaper web sites are notorious for not leaving content online, I’m going to reprint the obituary here. Unfortunately the obituary doesn’t tell you much about who Win really was (obituaries never do). I didn’t know the man very well, but he was genuinely kind and gracious. He struck me as a stereotypical grandpa, joyful and fun.
I never knew quite what to call him, in part because I met him at that time in my life when it became appropriate to call adults by their first names (I grew up calling adults Mr. and Mrs.), but also because “Grandpa” seemed so fitting. I ended up oscillating between Win and Grandpa.
Some of the best details the obituary leaves out were that Win enjoyed square-dancing with his wife and had season tickets to the Green Bay Packers. I imagine those tickets are in the will. And yes, square-dancing, as in big hoop skirts and ‘twirl your partner round and round.’ Win and JoAnn’s 50th wedding anniversary included square-dancing and they often traveled to square-dancing competitions.
One of the things I learned from Win (and JoAnn) is that we don’t need so much stuff. They encouraged the family not to give them gifts at Christmas and to instead make a donation somewhere. I loved that idea and when we talked with them about it they were incredibly practical—saying in effect, “I’ve been getting gifts all my life, I’ve got everything I need.” We’ve been doing that with all our grandparents since, and this year we’ve started doing a version of that in our immediate family as well.
Win’s death wasn’t a big surprise as he’d been in declining health for a while, but it’s never easy. I am thankful that he didn’t spend a long time in and out of the hospital. While it’s sad to lose him, I am looking forward to the funeral and the chance to celebrate his life and memory. My favorite memory from my own Grandpa’s funeral was sitting around his kitchen late at night laughing with my extended family.