April 05, 2007

Grandpa Jack

My Grandpa "Jack" was a special person. He never liked his given name... Harold Karren Thomas... so he went by "Jack" from the time he was a young boy. (He named himself after his beloved dog, Jack.) On paper, he was always officially "H.K. Thomas." I've always loved the way that looks. It's so dignified.

Grandpa Jack (my own Jack is so called in memory of him) was a scientist, and in my eyes, a genius. I recall many conversations with him during which he would try to expand my knowledge of science. I never seemed to really "get it," but I loved listening to him anyway. As much as he knew in mortality, I think he always looked forward to the day when he would know everything about the universe. I feel certain that day has come.

Shortly before Grandpa died, my cousin, Karren Louise Thomas, had the following experience which she (thankfully) recorded.

"Nine days ago we visited him in the general hospital and looked at his once 6'2", now shrunken frame in the simple metal cot/bed. Although he looked like he would break at a touch, his bright eyes (still keen and quick with wit) were sharp as he lay without movement.

My dad and his sister visited with him like old times, but all I could do was gaze at his hair (he'd dyed it brown for so long, I wasn't used to the long white waves that lay on his pillow).

Without a thought, I noticed the conversations around me had ended and my grandfather had opened his mouth to speak.

I couldn't tell..was he going to say something? With his eyes on the wall, was he just thinking? I began to think about what he must be pondering, contemplating there (with a weak body and strong mind).

He did open his mouth to speak:

"Life unfolds"

Without a thought I wrote it on the pages of the book I'd been reading and I heard nothing else.

As we left the hospital I opened my copy of "Franny and Zooey" and read the words again.

life unfolds

And it scares me, just sitting here, knowing that I will easily forget this and other things, other people, and go on through the new year, and the following years..and then suddenly remember, after it is open and unfolded, how it happened all the while I wasn't watching.

In Loving Memory of
Harold Karren Thomas
July 1910 - December 2001"

Thank you Karren.

Don't forget to watch.


  1. That's beautiful Alice. Life does Unfold and sometimes it feels like such a mystery! And it unravels too! Unwind? I'll take it!

  2. Thanks for writing this Alice.
    I loved it, and I love Grandpa.
    I often think of him and miss him and our days on the golf course. As I was reading this I was thinking how blessed I am to be his granddaughter.


Please feel free to leave comments that are appropriate and friendly.