My grandpa is in the VA hospital right now. He has a lot of medical issues -- diabetes, myasthenia gravis, pneumonia, skyrocketing blood pressure -- and he's nearly 90 years old. Children of tough old midwesterners will appreciate how fitting it is that he finally collapsed while driving his tractor. Thank goodness my cousin was with him.
He survived a turn in the Pacific theater of World War II that he won't talk about much; he practiced law until maybe ten years ago. He built a barn himself out behind the house; it's where he keeps a couple of tractors, arc welding supplies, table saws, drill presses, whatever ditch witch or other mechanical project he's working on. He chiseled stone into remarkable likenesses of my grandmother, himself, and a few Easter Island heads, and taught me to do the same (not nearly as well). He built a large stone waterfall by the back deck that you turn on with a switch. For the grandchildren he made a small truck powered by a lawnmower motor (we were allowed to drive it all around the property, but needed a grown-up to start it), a rubber-tired wagon my cousins used to ride down the creek bank, and a genuine hand-turned Ferris wheel.
Oh, and he was in at least one plane crash, which resulted in him nearly developing gangrene on the day my sister was being born (my dad wondered where Grandpa was, and found him passed out at home with an anaerobic infection in the arm he'd injured).
All this to say: there is nobody like Grandpa in the world. My childhood was absolutely magical because of him. I wish I were there beside my mother and grandma. I don't know what will come of this latest, but I know that for all of us, a world without Grandpa is an impossible thing to contemplate.