Day of the Dead: Memories of My Grandfather Kinney

Continuing with my Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead posts, I’m writing a few posts with memories of my grandparents. I’m not geographically close to where they are buried, so cleaning their gravestones and visiting with them isn’t practical.

Bob Kinney, 1912 – 1981
Robert Lyle Kinney

My maternal grandfather was an amazing Grandad. He and Grandma lived near Washington, D.C., and he never got tired of taking us kids to all the tourist sites when we came to visit in the summer. He took us to Mt. Vernon, the memorials around the Mall, and all the usual tourist stops. I remember him having infinite patience with us grandchildren.

Grandad loved the five and dime down the street from where they lived, and would give each of us some change to buy something. What fun to be in a store full of amazing stuff that we could slowly browse through. My mother told me much later that Grandad loved estate sales, which might explain where she and I got that particular trait from.

He loved pistachios, back when they were dyed in red dye No. 2. He liked Tabasco sauce, scotch, and smoking cigarettes and a pipe. He ate eggs and bacon for breakfast most days, and was definitely a meat and potatoes kind of man.

He had a green thumb and grew beautiful azaleas, and would have loved all the rhododendrons and azaleas here in the Pacific Northwest. His tomatoes were delicious – on their visits to us in Florida, he’d always bring some of his homegrown tomatoes – so ripe and tasty. He salted them and ate them raw. He also salted his watermelon – ugh.

Grandad died at 69. I wish I had gotten to know him better. His funeral and wake had lots of laughs – he had a great sense of humor. I have a deck of “crooked cards” we found in his things after he died. I thought that was a fitting souvenir of his life.

For his ofrenda, I’d leave him some scotch and cigarettes, though I’m sure that was part of what killed him. He liked coins, so I’d leave him a collection of quarters from different states. I also leave an azalea flower, some pistachios, and photos of all his grandchildren, and great-grandson. He met Kyle when he was about 6 months old, which I’m very glad for because Grandad died 6 months after that.

What traits might I have gotten from him? Patience, kindness, love of rummaging through old stuff, dressing sharply, and a great sense of humor.

Things that remind me of Grandad


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