Patriarch

[pey-tree-ahrk] n. noun 1. the male head of a family or tribal line.

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My Grandpa Halbrook passed away this morning at 10:53. He was 85.

He was facing three necessary surgeries, each more risky and complicated than the last. His body didn’t carry him to the first. He was ready.

Roses are a special memory from times at grandma and grandpa’s when I was young. They kept a row of rose bushes along one side of their house, and I often went out and cut some to bring in to grandma.

The day of my grandma’s funeral 8 years ago this November, a single white November rose bloomed on the pink rose bush in front of our house. I knew that that meant something very special because of all that had led up to grandma’s passing.

This morning, there were two beautiful pink roses together on the bush. A patriarch is no such thing without a matriarch. They are together again…

Grandpa & Grandma Halbrook, together again.
Grandpa & Grandma Halbrook, together again.

grandpahGrandpa was a great man. True, brave, loyal, hard-working, knowledgeable, strict but fair. He had the right priorities, starting with family. He taught us all well, by word and by example.

He met grandma when he had a medical leave on the Japanese mainland while he was serving as a Marine in the Korean War. He fell in love. He faced resistance and friends that turned their backs when he brought her to the States. But that mattered not to them. Love wins.

Since their house was always blocks from mine growing up, I spent a lot of time there. I went there after preschool, and that’s when grandma and my Aunt Becky taught me to read (reading the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper). As I grew older, when I needed a break from my parents’ house, I could always ride my bike to visit grandma & grandpa’s house.

I’m sure my family will share a lot of memories in the coming days, weeks, and years, but here’s a short list of some of the random memories from grandma & grandpa’s:

  • Caramels
  • Jawbreakers
  • Grape soda
  • Pancakes & orange drink
  • Hamburgers & french fries
  • Computer paper and pencils
  • Imagination
  • Shopping lists in Japanese
  • The sliding door in the back bathroom
  • The American flag and Japanese flag
  • Lionel Richie
  • Dare I say singalongs right after Lionel Richie?
  • Electric blanket
  • Old cable boxes with dial tuners
  • Pachinko
  • Cousins
  • The hideaway bed
  • The big TV
  • Staying up late watching MASH with grandpa
  • The beer can collection
  • Pool & pinball
  • Dinners out
  • Jerry’s – fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, coconut creme pie.
  • …and they let me have root beer 🙂
  • Buffets
  • Grandpa constantly reminding grandma that she’s really the boss
  • Grandma’s chair
  • Grandpa’s chair
  • Family

We’ll miss him terribly. In your kindness, please pray for our family, especially my dad, my Aunt Becky, and my Uncle Jerry.

I will always cherish the last hour I had alone with him last night, and the smile on his face when he saw his four great grandsons – my sons – visiting him for the last time last Saturday.

We’ll always remember…

Thanksgiving 2015. The Halbrook, Johnson, & Ahlvers guys. My 2 cousins had already left. 4 generations: My grandpa, his sons (my dad & uncle Jerry), my uncle Kerry, my brother, my brother-in-law Mike Ahlvers, and my 4 boys.
Thanksgiving 2015. The Halbrook, Johnson, & Ahlvers guys. My 2 cousins had already left. 4 generations: My grandpa, his sons (my dad & uncle Jerry), my uncle Kerry, my brother, my brother-in-law Mike Ahlvers, and my 4 boys.

Grandpa’s obituary is yet to be written, but for when it’s ready, I’ll re-post grandma’s, from November 11, 2007.

In the end, the two are inseparable…

Judy (Kimura) Halbrook, 79, of Granite City, died at 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, at the University Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Edwardsville.

She was born on Feb. 10, 1928, in Nagoya, Japan. Mrs. Halbrook was a homemaker; she was sworn in as a United States citizen on Jan. 26, 1960.

She married Ross Halbrook on Aug. 13, 1952, in Kyoto, Japan. He survives after 55 years of marriage.

Other survivors include two sons, Woody (Rita) Halbrook and Jerry (Shelly) Halbrook, both of Granite City; one daughter, Becky (Kerry) Johnson of Granite City; eight grandchildren, Michael (Suzanne), Sara (Michael), Sean, Kyle, Kelsey, Christopher, Kimura, Brett; and two great-grandchildren, Thomas and Matthew.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Toji and Kohagi Kimura; and one brother.

Funeral services were Saturday, Nov. 10, at Irwin Chapel, 3960 Maryville Road in Granite City, with the Rev. Larry Burnette officiating.

The body was cremated.

Memorials may be made to Holy Family Church Learning Center or Holy Family School, and will be accepted at the funeral home.

One thought on “Patriarch

  1. Micheal, that is so beautiful! Your dad played softball for my dad & later he became my softball coach. I held & played with you & Sara when you were babies. I will always remember the smile on your grandpa’s face while he watched your dad play. Then again much later in life when I played softball with your aunt. Your mom & dads love for each other was so much like your grand parents. They have always been an inspiration to me.

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