Happy 100th Grandpa Lee

Happy 100th Grandpa Lee


Shelley Irish, 9/16/19

My grandpa was many things to many people. To me growing up, he was the man who said ‘There’s my Shelley girl!’ every time I walked in the room. He taught me how to swing a hammer, memorize word spellings, how to have delightful, respectful conversations with people of different political parties. He was one of the conservatives who always rooted for the underdog, who was worldly, who loved my differences and encouraged all

aspects of my creativity. I wore an indian skirt one day with Ganesha elephants (a Hindu god) on it and he giggled as he asked ‘Coming over to our side?’. We laughed, of course not. He walked into my first art show in my old gallery with my grandmother, a tropicana orange juice box holding a vase of flowers, and a card from them that read ‘Congratulations on the opening of one of your dreams.’ I got nervous for a second when I realized I was standing with my grandfather by a nude painting I had made, his response was, ‘Well, hunny, I’ve seen a lot of naked men being in the military.’ Everything he said and did put me at ease. 

He bought me Madeleine Albright’s book, ‘Madame Secretary’ when I was taking a bunch of political classes in college. After I’d had it for a while, he asked, ‘Did you read the last paragraph yet?’ I hadn’t, but when I had, it was on. He loved talking about women’s power through their voices, my delvings in art and the world, talking about farmer women and military women as victors. His family and loved ones were his heroines. He was an adamant safe man to women and very protective of his family. Every time he told the story of how him and my grammy met he would cry a tear or two. Being the baby girl granddaughter, this was such a beautiful, soft way I got to experience family growing up. My wonderful grandpa, old school and real cool, and one of the men back then who encouraged the women in his family to stick up for themselves and what is right and be heard. There’s a lot of dudes out there who consider themselves feminists and who are adamant safe men to women. There are so many loving, spiritual, personal things I could share about my grandpa, but with the energy in the air, I am also thinking lately about how much of an impression it made on me for him to be so encouraging towards all women, and towards me being everything that I most naturally am, and how rare that kind of acceptance and openness was for men of his time and place. 

Madeleine Albright: 

“People sometimes ask me how I want to be remembered. I reply that I don’t want to be remembered; I’m still here. But when the day comes, I hope people will say that I did the best with what I was given, tried to make my parents proud, served my country with all the energy I had, and took a strong stand on the side of freedom. Perhaps some will also say that I helped teach a generation of older women to stand tall and young women not to be afraid to interrupt.”

Happy 100th Birthday, Grandpa Lee. Thank you for your timeless love and sheltering heart. 

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