Herman Brackbill, 1917-2008

Herman Brackbill

I got a call from my mother this morning informing me that my grandfather, Herman Brackbill, passed away earlier today at the age of 90. He would have been 91 next month.

As regular readers of my blog know, my grandfather’s health hasn’t been that great over the past few years, and it took a significant downturn a few months ago when he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. But when we saw him in December he was as alert, funny, and warm as ever. It hurts that he’s gone.

My fondest memories of my grandfather are from when I was a kid. We used to see him and my grandmother fairly often, and we had a little ritual going. In the days before my dad finished our basement, they would sleep on the pull-out couch in the living room, where the TV was, and we would come running down the hall early on Saturday morning and make Pop-pop watch cartoons with us. He would generally sit still with us for Looney Tunes, and he would invariably get caught up in the action with us and start laughing until he cried.

And I remember visiting him in Pennsylvania on Christmas Day and having his big voice boom out “Joy to the World” along with the radio—he inevitably sang the echoed “and heav’n and nature sing” like a true chorister. More recently, I had the privilege a few years back to sing next to him at a family gathering. His bass voice was less powerful but no less sure.

When my uncle Harold passed away recently, my grandfather missed him and the opportunity to spend time with him. They’re back together now, along with his other brothers and sisters that have gone before. It’ll be quite a family reunion tonight. I hope my great-grandfather has loosened up a little now and will allow some singing at the dinner table.