Monday, June 11, 2012

My Grandpa

As I get ready to say my final good-bye to a great man, the words and images go swimming through my mind. Only this man has no Facebook page to look back on and see how he effected so many. This man is my Grandpa and his stories are better heard word of mouth.
I know the way I see him is going to be different than the rest of my family may see him but I can only tell my story through my eyes. He is where I inherit my quiet from. Or at least that's what I like to tell myself.
I don't remember Grandpa talking very much through my years. He seemed liked a man who didn't like to waste words. He seemed happier listening and watching and taking it all in. He was forever the gentleman.
Grandpa had a sweet smile that was contagious. I remember him trying to catch a smile from me or for me. I keep getting these snapshots of Grandpa being there. Almost like he know just when to show up to make sure we weren't getting into too much trouble.
Grandpa always had candy. His favorite were butterscotch discs. I remember an occasional cinnamon disc or rootbeer barrel but not very often. Whenever I took my girls over to visit, they always had animal crackers on hand.
The morning that he passed, I immediately broke down into tears. I told myself that we knew this day was coming because Grandpa and Grandma had that kind of marriage...they existed better together than apart. But as many have told me, "It's never easy, no matter how ready you are."
My hubby dropped everything to hold me and my girls came scurrying from all ends of the house. After many hugs, my girls started reminding me of all I have from him. Grandpa was a carpenter.
I pause on that note because being a carpenter has meant so much to me over the years. Both of my Grandpas built wonderful items. My dad let me hammer some spare boards with extra nails from projects. My hubby builds amazing things. Most of all, being a carpenter was Jesus's heritage, it was His means of making a living and helping support His family.
My girls went running around the house listing off items I have to remember Grandpa. I have cabinets inherited from my mom when she rearranged her things. The one even smells like Grandpa according to my girls. They all stuck their face in it to make sure that the consensus was complete. Each girl has a treasure box. They have an amazing doll house that they were lucky enough to inherit when Grandma passed in 2010. My childhood dresser (now one of the girls's) was also built by him. I also have all of the Christmas ornaments that he and Grandma gave each grandkid every year.
Grandpa was such a tender soul. But you could tell that there was no getting by him. He would be wise to you quicker than you could blink I bet. He was such a great neighbor and friend. Grandpa set a great example for us. He sat by Grandma's side and held her hand til the end. It was so amazing to go and visit them at this stage of life. Sitting side-by-side holding hands...priceless at any age. Made you pray that you could have that some day.
Grandpa was a true Christian. You could see it in his walk and never heard him preach. He was an usher at his church for 55 years. So, when my hubby helps out at our church, my heart skips a beat. Grandpa also prayed the rosary regularly. I received one of my Grandma's rosaries when she passed and I carry it with me every day because it's that physical reminder of them.
My Hazel girl told me that she will be brave and strong at this funeral. She remember Grandma's funeral and how sad Grandpa was and how sad she was for him. She prayed for him and gave him a big hug at the wake. Hazel says she remembers and will be strong again. That girl is something else. All my girls are amazing with how different they are handling this. Hazel is the one with the strongest (most vocal) faith and the deepest emotional well which makes for an interesting combination.
I've said alot and feel as though I haven't said enough. I know I can't sum up 93 years in a few short paragraphs. I am thrilled that Grandpa is now in his glorified body with Grandma. I am thrilled that he got called home to be with Jesus. I am torn sad for all of us left behind. But I pray that we can all look at a part of Grandpa's life and learn something from it and pass on the legacy of this great man through our actions and our words.
I'll never forget this one moment. He walked out of the kitchen holding a small glass of orange juice and half of a graham cracker.He looked sneaky and proud. He told me, "a little snack before you go to bed, the perfect size." Which reminds me when we used to stay there over night and would get a small bowl of ice cream before bed. Those were some great days.