Allen Charles Edward Horst, 1917-2008

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Allen Horst

There aren't a lot of words in me right now, but this is where I've been for the past week. While I was in Iowa earlier this month, my grandfather was having some health problems, but they were the kind of challenges facing anyone who's 90, the body being built as it is. A little more than a week ago, my grandfather was admitted for what was supposed to be a fairly minor procedure. Unfortunately, it didn't end up being particularly minor; after a major heart attack on Monday, my grandfather passed away in the wee hours Thursday morning.

Needless to say, it's difficult to separate out the echoes of last fall's visit to Iowa and my father's passing. It's becoming increasingly difficult for me to remember what a normal fall semester is supposed to be like. But that's just me.

There's a difference between parents and grandparents. The former come to know you as an adult; at some point, ideally, you cease to be the child. At least that's how it's been for me--I count both my mothers (and counted my father) among my closest friends. But I've been the grandchild of my mother's parents (my father's parents have both passed away), and so my knowledge of my grandfather comes through that lens. I know some of his history: my grandfather was a pilot in World War II, and later trained pilots, and he owned a car dealership for much of his life after that. I got my first car from him (a silver VW Beetle), and he always asked me about the cars that I drove. He was an avid golfer, and even when he wasn't really able to play anymore, he would go down to the club and play cards with his friends.

But those just feel like details. There's something about him that I can't quite find the words for--the word that folk used at the visitation was "gentleman." He worked hard, made friends easily, loved his family, served his country, and had great personal integrity. I don't know that he ever really understood what I do, outside of the fact that I'm a university professor, but I don't know that he needed to. The pride and love he felt for me, and that I have for him, lives in the deep core--as long as I was happy, he was happy for me.

And it's a different kind of empty that I feel this fall. It doesn't feel any better or worse--just different. If there's a silver lining, it's that I know that it'll get easier, but that doesn't make it any easier right now.

I did have the chance to do some scanning while I was in Iowa, so I'll probably toss up a flickr pool in the next few days. In the meantime, here are a couple of my faves...

My grandfather and me

my grandparents


This has been a very hard year for you, Collin. I'm sorry. We're all out here, in the stratosphere, thinking of you.

Sorry to hear about your grandfather. Sounds like he lived a full life.

My condolences Collin. This has indeed been a hard year for you, and I wish I could do more than just offer sympathy.

I'm sorry to hear this, Collin. Your grandfather sounds a lot like Erin's: pilot in WWII, a gentleman, liked cars and talking about them, happiest around his family. Thanks for sharing the photos and this remembrance.

My condolences. So sorry for your loss Collin. Take care.

Your grandfather sounds like a remarkable man from a remarkable generation. My condolences.

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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on August 27, 2008 9:45 PM.

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