Donald E. Noyes
(October 16, 1933 – June 24, 2019)
My Big Buddy
A smile. A hug. A hand shake. A pat on the back. A hand on the shoulder.
That’s how Gramp would meet me every time I’d see him. Even now living in New York, a phone call to him would begin like this:
“Well for gosh sakes! How are you!?”
He’d call me many names. Usually bud, little helper, or my personal favorite…
The warmth in which he said those words, the light that shined in his eyes, the smile that always crept across his face when he’d see me walk in or help him or accomplish something important… brought me more joy and happiness than a physical award. Sitting down and chatting with him about history, politics, hunting, cooking, even literal crap, enlightened me more than any lecture in school. A hug from him would mean more to me than a hug from anyone else. And whenever he said, “I’m proud of you,” I knew I had done something good, or something worthwhile.
Because he was my Gramp, and I was his little buddy.
Gramp and I had a bond. I will never know what it is exactly, or understand it. But he spoke to me, and I listened. I spoke to him, and he listened. I’d be hurting and confused, not knowing where my future was, what was happening to mom and dad, and he’d be there. He’d be a sturdier shoulder to lean on than the strongest of steel frames. “That’s what gramps are for,” he’d tell me. Yes he was just that, and so much more. So much more that I’m having a hard time putting into words what he was and always will be to me.
Because to me, my Gramp, Donald Noyes, was the greatest man in the world. And he always will be.
Because the nice man I saw almost daily was never anything but. Gramp was always Gramp. There was no change of character with him. There was no lack of reliability if he’d be there to speak to when I needed him. He was just there, and always the same. His heart warm, gentle, but also brash. It was what I’d need. He was what I need. And to this day I say to myself, “If I am half the man Gramp is, I’d be a good person.”
It was Gramp I’d think of when times were tough. What would he do? What would he think? What would he say?
I can’t be specific about Gramp. He made me my toy musket so I could pretend I was in the American CIvil War. He found me those old encyclopedias introducing me to World War 1 and World War 2 even before I could really read. He’d let me shoot my films on his land, then call me shocked asking who I murdered because of all the fake blood in the snow. He’d force feed my Uncle Mark and I piles of pancakes after hunting on his land. Or the salmon sandwiches. Only he could make something like that sound exquisite. I’d be over in a heartbeat. He was the first man I thought of when I was in the hospital four years ago. He was the first person I wanted to see when I got home the first time. He was the first one to really tell me to leave New Hampshire and go make myself into something more than I could here. He was the first person I thanked when I won my first movie award.
I was his little buddy. “No matter how full of shit you are,” he’d say… every time.
If I was his little buddy, then he was my big buddy. Something beyond just family or just grandchild and grandparent. He was my best friend. And I would give up anything to hear him tell me he, “still needed to clean the dishes,” one more time.
But now I must truly say it for the last time, and never before in my life, or probably for the remainder of my life, will I mean these words so utterly and completely.
“I love you.”
And while I was always your little buddy, you were always my big buddy.
I love you, Gramp.