Redcoats and Running: An Ode to My Grandpa Doug
My grandpa died today.
Grandpa Doug was about 6 weeks shy of his 97th birthday.
Or, he died last night. We’re not sure. Some time in his sleep he said bye to his tired and aged bag of bones and went on to that realm of spirits where now he communes freely with his wife, Nedra, his siblings and other friends and family already there.
My Grandpa Doug grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts and moved to Los Angeles as a young lad to finish art school.
There he met my grandmother, found work doing industrial art + design, and settled to raise his family within sighting distance of the nightly Disneyland fireworks, where he stayed until today.
There are 2 pictures embedded from Instagram on this post and they often don’t show on the first page load. (Why?!) If you don’t see 3 model cars below, reload/refresh or click here and here to see Grandpa Doug.
For years, I knew him as an artist.
Doing cool things like …
When I was 26 I visited him for a few days.
In that 1:1 time, I discovered my grandpa was more than an artist. He was a writer too.
He wrote regularly for his company’s management journal … editorials on life, leadership, service, being great, being a citizen.
I snapped pictures of a few of them.
And today I’m sharing one of his editorials because he wrote it about today.
Not about his death, but about today …
… the day the world gathers near his home for the marathon of marathons, The Boston Marathon
… the day students across America’s schools read and recite Longfellow’s tale of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
… the day that marks the moment when one man, standing among 70-some of his fellow farmers and blacksmith countrymen, stared down 700+ Redcoats between Lexington and Concord and dared to take The Shot Heard ‘Round the World
… the day we call Patriots’ Day
From Grandpa Doug:
Until recent years, April 19th was a holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — Patriots’ Day, in commemoration of the rag-tag colonial revolutionaries who beat the British Redcoats on the battlefields of Lexington and Concord on that day following the famous midnight ride of Paul Revere.
Today, like many American holidays, Patriots’ Day has become a flexible holiday, a weekend extension, hence this year’s celebration on April 17th. Also, like many America holidays, it is less remembered for its original significance than for a sporting event of national interest. On New Year’s Day, it’s the bowl games, on Memorial Day, the Indianapolis 500, and in Boston on Patriots’ Day, it’s the Marathon.
We remember such a day, more than forty years ago, when we took a twenty-mile round trip bicycle ride to see the Boston Marathon. In those days, everyone was interested in the performance of a past winner, a high school teacher and former heart patient named Clarence DeMar who started running as a young man and continued until his death when was in his seventies. There was always a Johnny Kelly in the race and at least one of them won it two or three times.
Running, it seemed, was a localized craze confined to the Greater Boston area, and anyone could do it — rich, poor, large or small, youngster or senior citizen. One winner, “Tarzan” Brown, a Narraganset Indian, was so poor that his taped shoes hung in shreds on his blistered feet at the end of the 26 miles.
Today, the running craze has spread across the country and to other parts of the world as well. Most people don’t consider themselves athletes, certainly not competitors out to win races. Running is just good healthy exercise and an opportunity to clear the mind, and, especially if you run early in the morning, to prepare yourself both physically and mentally for the rigors of the day ahead.
Only by staying mentally and physically fit can we expect to win any future battles with whatever Redcoats may block the path to freedom.
— Douglas C. Tubbs
Love you, Grandpa.
For my daily list of 10+ new ideas, I dedicated the time to gratitude for you:
- Thanks for staying mentally fit.
- Thanks for working to be as physically strong as you could through heart troubles and broken hips.
- Thanks, more importantly, for having the heart to rally the hearts of all your family … our family … in respect, connection and love.
- For framing one of my drawings when I was a kid, I felt so validated.
- For your courage to drive across the country and finish art school in LA.
- For patiently pursuing greatness in life … in courting Nedra, in your craft of drawing, in writing, and in joining the Church and being a disciple of all good things of Jesus.
- For joining the Church and embracing what you could love about what the restored gospel offers.
- For holding down the fort in LA so we could visit that great part of the country and have family there to be with (Disneyland!).
- For having a cheerful countenance.
- For learning to whistle, and doing it shamelessly and gleefully … and sometimes completely unconsciously.
- For wanting family to be together, to be friendly, to be on good terms.
- For hosting me at your place for a few nights in 2012.
- For supporting the family in gathering in big celebrations for your birthday every 5 years from the 80th and on.
- For doing all you did to teach and show my mom the ways of language and writing and art.
- For enjoying yummy food and wanting us to as well.
- For being interested in and asking about my life — my various entrepreneurial ventures, my travels, being a triathlete.
- For answering the phone whenever I called.
- For loving, really, unconditionally.
See you on the other side 🙂