|My Grandpa & Me|
It's hard to explain the dynamics of our great big family but it is the most amazing family. There is so much love, so much support and our grandparents were a big part of that. They instilled in us the importance of family. They loved each of us (5 children, 21 grandchildren), welcomed and loved our spouses, and eagerly anticipated and loved each of their 36 (I think - and there are two more on the way - I'm so happy he knew of our adoption plans!) great-grandchildren. They not only loved us - they knew us - every single one of us. While we knew this day would come and that it would mark the end of an era, we dreaded it. Grandpa and Grandma made it to pretty much every event they possibly could. The last time I saw them both together was just 3 weeks before my grandma suddenly passed away - they were there loving us and spending time with us. They not only taught their children life lessons but they taught each of us lessons by their words, their examples, their priorities, and their quiet faith.
Today we celebrated the life of my grandpa. As I patted his arm one last time and tearfully wished him goodbye for now, I couldn't help but reflect on the heritage and legacy I have been given. The service was a beautiful time of sharing and some of the words accurately used to describe my grandpa were: wonderful, faithful, a gentleman, frugal, generous, sincere, loving, and more. As my aunt said, "He was not perfect but he came about as close as you can."
I treasure every moment I spent with him (and Grandma - they were rarely separated). The last minute visits, the many, many games (this deserves a post all it's own), the advice, the stories, the teasing, the laughter, the sharing, the blueberry picking, the travelling, the time...it was precious. I would not change one thing except to have spent MORE time. Selfishly, I long to have them back but I would never wish them back - they are in heaven. The last time I visited Grandpa, we held hands in a circle and prayed - he closed the prayer time and began as he nearly always did, "Father, we pause just now..." It was simple, beautiful, and blessed. He knew we loved him and never once in the last several years did he fail to say how blessed he and Grandma were. They were proud of us - fiercely proud. The loved us - unconditionally.
Some of my favorite memories are the "Grandpa Trap," watching him play with my children (he loved kids and was always on the floor with him - even 6 months ago!), playing games with him (he taught us many and he never "let" you win), the twinkle in his eye, the ready laugh, the great big smile, the constant teasing, the sound he made when he was afraid you were going to make a mess or touch something with your hands that needed washed, the genuine interest in me and my family, and the unending love and support.
I love you, Grandpa, you taught me so many life lessons. I miss you more than I even knew possible. You and Grandma were two of the most important people in my life. I am so glad you are together but I'm so very sad that I won't get to introduce you to our new one and so sad that I won't be making the trek to your house. I never wanted to say goodbye - you made life richer. I'm proud to be your granddaughter and proud to be in the best family in the whole wide world (not that I'm biased or anything). Thank you. You live on in our hearts, in our values, and in our lives.
Walking through this journey of grief with my extended family has been a most wonderful (though definitely painful) experience. We have clung to one another - remembering, crying, laughing, hugging. My cousins were my first best friends and they remain some of the dearest people in my life. Perhaps one of the highest compliments came from my cousin's husband when he noted that he always looked forward to seeing my grandparents, they always took interest in him, his work and his family, and they treated him just like a grandson. The other married-ins agreed - they were close to those two very special people. Today we say goodbye but I can't wait for the day I see them again in Heaven.
My heart is so sad (sadder than I even knew possible) and my tears are ever near but I know they want us to keep moving forward, spending time as family, making memories, and playing games. So, in time, I will dry my tears and continue to honor them with the choices I make but for today, I weep. I loved them so much.