My heart is broken. For the first time in my life someone really close to me has passed way. On Jan. 11, 2012 my grandfather, Jim Fitzgerald, left this world — with any luck — for a better one. He was 85 years old and lived one of the richest lives imaginable. The second oldest of five siblings, he grew up in Port Huron, was recruited into the Army and did a stint in World War II, where his ability to type likely saved his life. He returned home and attended Michigan State University where he earned a journalism degree. He got his first job in what would become my hometown, of Lapeer, Mich. First hired to sell ads, his actual first duty was to help his boss’s wife move a fridge. (You can only imagine that this is one of many hilarious stories he shared with his family). Things progressed from there. He married the paper’s bookkeeper, Patricia, and together they raised three kids — including my mom Christie. He served as editor of The Lapeer County Press for many years, earning the paper countless awards. In the 1970s he was hired as a columnist at the Detroit Free Press where he wrote about politics, race relations, world events. When I was born, he wrote a lot about me — well us, and the many adventures that he and I had in and around Detroit. From trips to the giant slide, to putt-putt golf in Trapper’s Alley, my grandfather and I had something special. After he moved back to Lapeer, and later retired in the early 1990s, he and my grandma traveled. They went to Ireland, to London, they took cruises, but they rarely missed one of my swim meets or band concerts. When I began my journalism career, he picked up his red pen and taught me a thing or two. Eventually the red marks were fewer and fewer, but his ability to catch a typo was a little intimidating, only surpassed by his ability to detect a weak vodka/ tonic. His death wasn’t sudden, so my grief is different than I expected. Grieving has been a long, slow process and thankfully every day it’s a little better. He knew how much I loved him and I will never doubt how much he loved me. So, I supposed my heart isn’t broken. It’s cracked. It hurts, but slowly and surely the memories my grandfather and I shared are seeping in to fill the cracks.
Emily Caswell is the Managing Editor of CAWLM. She has a passion for fun, family, friends, shopping sprees, cold drinks and Lansing.