I was thinking about my Grandpa a lot this morning. I guess I didn't make it very clear before but my Grandpa passed away the week after Uncle Jim's funeral. It was pretty sudden for my family. He had prostate cancer but he had been battling it for a very long time, I remember first hearing about it before I got married but my memory is perhaps skewed. The particulars aren't that important. While my sister was here she expressed that she had always felt our grandparents would pass away very close to each other and I had always felt that way also. They belong together, extensions of each other. My Grandfather spent his life taking care of the love of his life and once she passed over the sacred bridge he was able to let go a little, to give in. I wasn't ready for him to go, I know that others in my family feel the same way. My heart trembles for my Aunt Mary Jane who moved to New Mexico for the express purpose of spending time and taking care of her parents. I pray she stays near my family even though my Grandparents have crossed the bar, we need her nearby - probably even more now.
I was thinking about my Grandpa a lot this morning.
My Grandpa was one of those gentle souls. He was colorblind, a fact I always found intriguing, and his eyes were the bluest of blues; my sister has the exact same color of eyes, it's really awesome to see that bit of him in her looking out. He was a World War II veteran and marched his way across France. He married my Grandmother when he was very young, in his early 20's, and they were married for over 60 years. He spent more of his life as a husband and father than as anything else and I think that is the true mark of a great man. He worshiped his wife, admired his children, and took pride in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He grew up in rural Arizona and never strayed far from his hometown roots. Many of his siblings still live clustered together in Tucson, Arizona where my Grandparents spent the whole of my life. He used to make the best eggs on the face of the earth, he would just grab whatever was in the fridge and whip them up to perfection. There are things I know about him but there are other things I remember about him, little glimpses of memory locked away and sometimes tangible, ultimately precious.
I remember when his mother died, it was the first time I ever saw my Dad cry. We went to Tucson and I sat on my Grandfather's lap during the funeral - or at least during the portions of the funeral that I remember.
I remember one year when I was about 10 and we were visiting Tucson, it must have been around Thanksgiving. The Wildcats were playing on TV and Grandpa invited me to sit on his lap and watch the game. I thought I was too big but he said not to worry. As I sat down he warned me that he would jump out of his chair if the Wildcats scored. I didn't believe him. But, sure enough when the Wildcats scored he jumped out of his chair, launching me from his lap.
I remember one time he took me with him to the city dump. We were riding in his truck and his blinker was on - Ching ching, Ching ching - the whole way and I was too scared to tell him.
I remember visiting Tucson when Josh was small and looking at photo albums. My Grandfather asked me if I knew about the first time he kissed my Grandma, I said no. He told me that he sat on her lap to hold her down so he could kiss her. In my mind I can see it, my Grandmother laughing and squirming while he laid his claim.
I remember once on Christmas Eve in Tucson, I couldn't sleep so I went and took a shower very early in the morning. I was in there for a long time, standing in the steam until the water started to run cold. When I came out my Grandpa was in the kitchen and he smiled at me and asked if I felt better. It was probably 5 a.m.
I remember the night of my Grandmother's celebration of life my Grandpa was sitting in the kitchen, talking, and I rubbed his shoulders. He put his warm hand on mine, soft and smooth and frail, and patted my fingers. I can still feel where he touched me.
I take a peculiar interest in family history. My Grandparents, especially my Grandma, loved it too. They completed a large portion of our history, with help from my Dad and other sources, and when I was a teenager I worked on it also. It is fascinating to me that so many generations of time met and mingled to create someone so amazing as my Grandfather. It amazes me that I somehow sprang out of that, and I can't help but wonder if all of those generations are filled with people as well-loved as my Grandfather.
I feel so blessed, I feel so robbed of more time, I feel so sad, I feel so happy to belong to him. I suppose that is the balance of life.
I hope I always remember.