|Grandad is his red chair in his den. Early 1970's.|
Among other things we chose was my grandfather's red leather chair from his den and a matching ottoman. It was a favorite of mine and one of the few things that reminded me of a man I really didn't know very well.
I had just turned 8 years old the summer Grandad died. His was the first wake and funeral I ever attended. At the wake, my mother wanted nothing to do with being in the same room as the open casket that Buba had going on for him, so she stood with me outside in the hallway and greeted people as they came in. I was relieved to not have to see a dead person. Score one for being the baby. At his funeral, I remember being mesmerized with the American flag presentation to my grandmother for his World War I service. She looked sad. They had been married 53 years at that point.
|Harold Potter Willett about 1896|
at the age of 2. Look at that outfit.
I love looking at the photos of him growing up. My mother and aunt as well as Buba's diary provide some great stories of him.
He and his brother, John Howard, and sister, Mildred Jeanette, were raised in a very unloving family. Their mother, Fannie, was by all accounts said to have been selfish and cold. An older brother was still-born in 1888. Harold's middle name was Potter which was his mother's maiden name.
|John Howard, Jr. and Harold Willett abt 1902|
|Harold Potter Willett abt 1912|
He was actually a very nice man. I just didn't get a chance to get to know him We lived just far enough away in Connecticut that by the time I was born we only made trips up to Swampscott on special occassions. My mother adored him and was always closer to him than she was to her mother. My mother and Grandad were very similar. Neither were good students. Both liked to have fun (too much) growing up. Both were stoic and "suck it up and move forward" kind of people.
|My grandfather's red chair|
in our living room 2014
He died in July of 1973 at the age of 78 in his sleep. Buba was in the living room doing some needlepoint and when she went to check on him, he was gone.
She missed him for the rest of her life. She would mention him frequently and always note his passing by saying something like, "Harold's been gone 20 years this month."
The red chair sits in my living room. Well loved by our cat, Stuart, who likes to nibble on it, unfortunately. But plans are to repair it. In the mean time, it is lovingly watched over by a photo of his wife.