06 June 2014


My wife's grandfather, Paul, died on Tuesday morning. He lived about ten minutes from Carbine, so I would drive over to have lunch with him whenever I could. For a while, it was our Wednesday routine. I'd drop in, we'd eat and chat, and then he'd walk me out and say goodbye. As things got busier and busier closer to launch, my visits became less common. There was so much to do and so little time to do it all. I'd go when I could, but it wasn't as often as before.

I felt very close to Paul. My grandfathers had already passed, and he'd always treated me like family. The first time I met him, we got to talking about my interest in history. I was a Civil War reenactor then, and Paul thought that was the neatest thing ever. He opened up and told me about his experiences in World War II, something he'd never done with anyone else according to my wife and her grandmother.

Paul in Germany, 6/20/1945
Paul served on the ground in Europe as part of an ambulance crew, starting on D-Day +2, through the Battle of the Bulge, and until well after the end of hostilities. He was proud of his service in the war, rightly so. It was an experience that shaped him and changed him forever, and he wrote a memoir about it and sent me a copy which I've kept to this day.

Paul was a little old fashioned about some things, but he was a great guy. He had a quick wit and a jovial laugh, even though he'd often tell the same jokes over and over again. I never minded. It was a pleasure to sit with him and hear about his past, as well as his thoughts on the future. Oftentimes, when we would have lunch, he would talk about the technology of his youth as compared to the technology today. He had no idea where the world would be when my kids were his age, but he was certain of one thing--that it would be amazing.

Paul's in the pink shirt (10/2008)
Since I was always coming from and going to work before and after our visits, he always asked me how things were going. It was clear he didn't quite understand what an MMORPG was, or what it was I did exactly. Still, he'd listen when I tried to explain it, comparing it to this or that, trying to make some kind of sense out of it all. He was proud that I was supporting his granddaughter and his grandchildren, who he loved a great deal.

He called me a couple of weeks ago. "I haven't seen you in an awfully long time," he said. "Maybe we could have lunch soon."

"How about tomorrow?" I asked. We were close to launch and I wasn't as strapped for time as I'd been in those busy months leading up to the fin
al stretch.

I dropped by the next day. My father-in-law was there, too, and the three of us had lunch. Paul was miserable, and he had been since his wife died. His health was slowly deteriorating. His eyesight and hearing had gotten worse, and he hated it. I tried to direct the conversation to other topics, like the kids or the things he'd done way back when. We toyed around with the idea of having a Fourth of July bar-be-que at my place so he could see my children. He made a fuss about not wanting dessert, but I cajoled him into eating some ice cream (which was his favorite thing).

When the hour was up, he walked his son and I to the door and we said goodbye. Despite his complaints, he still seemed strong to me. He appreciated my visit, and I hugged him goodbye and patted him on the back. I drove back to work, knowing that WildStar's launch was only a couple weeks away. I wasn't sure what the future held, but I sure as hell didn't predict that it was the last time I'd see him.

Paul in his favorite chair.
At midnight on Tuesday, June 3rd, WildStar went live. Six to eight hours later, Paul was dead. I didn't find out about his passing until just before noon on the 4th. It hit me hard. I still can't believe he's not with us anymore, and I can't get it out of my head. I'll never sit down to lunch with him again, or show him the game I spent so many hours working on to give him more context into how it worked and what my part in it had been. He'll never tell me about his experiences before, during, and after the war. All those memories, except for those he wrote down, are lost.

We make sacrifices every day. One thing trumps something else so we can get things done. I feel bad that I wasn't able to see him as often as I wished. I know he didn't blame me for it, but I'd give all those overtime hours for just one more hour with him.

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