Neil McNeill was the most interesting man in my world.
Neil knew something about everything and had an opinion to share on all of it. Not in a way that made you feel inferior or insignificant, but in a way that kept you wanting to hear more. It wasn’t hard to spend hours in his living room engaged in conversation.
He could discuss corporate taxation, or international affairs, and then a few minutes later explain how to avoid overcharging a lithium battery.
He was born in Kansas. He worked in the Pentagon, lived in Japan and served in Vietnam.
He flew planes both big and small. He retired from the Navy, but didn’t want to be called Captain. He had a PhD from Harvard, was an accounting professor, but hated to be called Doctor.
He was a husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Those titles he didn’t mind.
He owned one of the very first telephone answering machines. He sniped eBay auctions for radio control airplane parts. He complained about PayPal, a lot. His house had a gadget, part or widget for doing just about anything.
He was a geek.
In 2013, doctors told him he had just a few months to live. He lasted almost two more years. Even as cancer gripped tighter on his liver, lungs and heart, even as radiation and other treatments abused his body, he always had just enough energy to light up and entertain us all.
Neil’s dad had lived to be 102, but Neil was only 83. He had too much life to live for. This man wouldn’t go down without a fight. Even towards the end, hospice would say he had only had a few days left, and weeks would go by. When they said it was a matter of hours, no one believed them.
They obviously had no scale to properly measure Neil McNeill.
Neil was my wife’s grandfather and since both of mine had passed away years before I was even born, over the the 12 years I knew him, he became mine too. He was the most interesting man in my world, and he will be forever missed.
Peace out, Gramps.