Monday, March 3, 2014

Endings


Last week's post about sprinting to the end became a sudden, shocking reality in more ways than one Friday night when I received word that my Grandfather had passed away.  It didn't really register with my brain for a good 30 minutes.  It was just information rolling around in my brain, tumbling, twisting, turning among my thoughts, trying to make sense of what I had just learned.  I made my way to the gym and saw my oldest son.  He grabbed and hugged me and I lost it.  I sobbed and sobbed while my baby boy held me up.  We made our way to the office where I attempted regain my composure and posted a vague FB status about my heart hurting and tried to collect myself enough to get through senior night (sorry about that, friends).  I numbly went on with my tasks during the game as best I could. Diversions are always welcome when dealing with heavy news, right?

My Grandpa was 98, soon to be 99. He walked a mile every day and often rode his bike a few miles as well.  In more recent years his eyesight had deteriorated and he gave up his latch-hook rugs for audio books. He was a crazy old fart.  I say that with absolute fondness.  He would laugh at that, I promise.  He had a hat that said Old Fart across the front and proudly wore it most of my childhood.

I spent a good portion of this afternoon and early evening with my dad and sister writing Grandpa's obituary, discussing options for the headstone, visiting the cemetery and being unable to find Grandma's stone. Turns out there's still a good two feet of snow covering the ground and we didn't think to grab a shovel.  Dad and I were sure it had melted enough in the last week that we'd find it.   Best part of the afternoon was laughing at all of the truthful, yet less eloquent ways to describe Grandpa.   He was verbose.  He would talk to anyone who was willing to listen.  He always gave advice, whether or not you wanted any.  To say he was frugal is a gross understatement.  The man squeaked when he walked.  We would laugh. Then a still quiet settled over for a while as we savored memories.

Now I feel stuck.  I struggle knowing I won't be able to go to his house this summer, sit outside under a tree and talk with him.  I won't hear him get after the boys about slowing down on the mowers, bark at them to trim a little closer to the flowerbeds, or tell them that candy he's offered them is going to turn their hair green, all the while seeing the joy and pride in his eyes that these two hard working boys are his great grandchildren.

Selfishly I want one more story. Just one more birthday with him.  Another summer to mow his yard and pick red raspberries from his garden. One more batch of toffee.  Take him one more picking of strawberries from my garden.  Sunday breakfast with him and toast coated in his apricot-pear jam (my favorite).

I know I need to be celebrating his life.  I need to celebrate the fact he is Home with Grandma, who he's been without for the last 25 years.  I know he's at peace.  Celebrate that he can see.  That he can walk without struggle and the pep in his step has returned.  I feel so blessed to have had nearly 37 years with him and that my kiddos have had so much time with him.  We are here to carry on his great legacy.  Seven children; nineteen grandchildren; twenty-three great grandchildren; four great-great grandchildren.

What a story he has to tell.


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