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Sunday, January 5, 2014

RIP My Grandfather, Paul Swick

I found out this morning that my maternal grandfather, Paul Swick (AKA: "Paw Paw Swick"), passed away in the early hours.  He was 93.  He was married to my grandmother for 72 years and she said today that she already misses him.  I can't be there for the service so I thought I'd say something here.

Paul Swick was born on 1/27/1921 and had 3 brothers and 3 sisters.  They were raised by their nurse/healer mother through the depression and when old enough, went into different armed forces.  My grandfather went into the army and was stationed in Las Vegas as a plane mechanic with my grandmother.  My mother was also born there.  Over the years, Paw Paw has told me bits and pieces of his time there in the army but not enough to piece together a whole story. 

This is a photo of my grandparents on a pier.  My grandfather was trying to kiss my grandmother and she wasn't having it.

 My grandfather with my sister, Debbie - Mid 70's.

Early family Portrait - Paw Paw in a brown jumpsuit.

Paw Paw worked for Exxon for 30 plus years in the refinery in Baytown (home of the world's largest gasoline refinery).  We usually saw him in a jumpsuit like the one in the picture right and left.  He sometimes worked the graveyard shift and he always seemed to be sleeping in his chair in front of the TV.

Paw Paw created toys for us out of string and bits of wood (see below) that would make a "whirring" sound as they wound and unwound and he could piece together a lawnmower out of spare parts he'd find around.  

"Spinny Things"
L to R: Doug, Diana, me, Debbie

He was so resourceful - partly because of how his great brain worked, and partly because of the necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention attitude he learned from experiencing the depression.  He was a wiz at creating clothing patterns for my mom's, aunt's and uncle's clothes, which my grandmother would sew, which amazed me.  I found out he had this talent when I took a vintage bartender's waistcoat to them to alter for me.  He knew what was what!  Maw Maw filled me in on how they would work together to create the homecoming/prom dresses for Mom and Judy, my aunt.

When Paw Paw was into stained glass, he asked me one day, "You've worked with stained glass, is there a 'grain' to some glass?"  I think there is and told him so.  He replied, "I thought so.  Some glass doesn't cut worth a shit!" and he cackled.  He had a cackle/laugh like no one else I've come across.  He sometimes mumbled and then would cackle.  We would laugh because of his laugh, but usually we had no idea what he'd said. 

He smoked a pipe for years and to this day, if I smell that tobacco, I think of him.

Later in life, he had cataracts removed and his declining health made it harder and harder for him to walk.  He stubbornly refused to use a walker for years until his "walking stick" proved unable to balance him as well as hold him up.  Finally, he thought a walker was a great idea. It was quite a blow to him when he was told he couldn't drive anymore, more like he was devastated. He finally came to terms with it and allowed my grandmother to drive him.
A few years back, we were able to get my nephew, Justin, and his wife and kids together in their backyard for a 5 generation family photo.  Paw Paw is in the middle with his trusty walking stick.

Maw Maw and Paw Paw during Christmas Eve this year at my cousin, Tricia's house.

This year I volunteered to pick up Maw Maw and Paw Paw from their house and bring them to my parents' house for Christmas Day lunch.  My father went with us and helped get him down the steep stairs at their house.  Paw Paw said a few times, "This is a lot of work for a free meal!" and then he'd cackle.  On the way to the house, he asked how Dennis was doing.  (He didn't recognize me anymore and didn't know I was sitting next to him driving the car.)  He asked, "Is he still creating things?  He was always creating and manufacturing something."  I replied, "Yes, he is."  Paw Paw said, "Oh, good."

He had been falling once a week or so due to balance issues and seemed to be an expert at pushing his Life Alert button.  Just after the beginning of the new year, he fell in the kitchen and broke his leg close to the hip bone.  He pushed the button on his necklace and was able to tell the person on the other end that he was pretty sure he broke his leg.  He was rushed to the hospital and after getting his blood levels corrected, he had surgery to repair his leg.  They found out that he also had pneumonia and drained his lungs during the same surgery.  Due to varied complications, he passed away. 

His wife (Grace), 3 children, 8 grand-children, 16 great-grand-children and 2 great, great grand-children are left to mourn his loss and he will be remembered as long as we live. 

I love you, Paw Paw. We'll miss you always. May you rest in peace, free from pain and the old body that annoyed you.  You once told me that you felt like your were still 18 but had a old man's body...I hope you have your 18 year old body back now.  I hope you're having fun up there!


  1. That was beautiful! Your Paw Paw was a very special man - much loved. May your memories of him live on. ♥

  2. So very sorry Dennis...I can see why you loved him so...