Bye, Grandpa…


Today was my Grandpa’s funeral.

It’s kind of weird to look back and think that only six months ago we were all gathered here to celebrate his 90th birthday, and everybody remarked at what great health he was in and that for all we knew, he might have lived another 10 years without blinking an eye. I guess that makes me feel all the more glad that we made the trip up last summer to see him one last time…

After I heard about his death last Friday and before I actually got here, I found myself admittedly feeling a little jealous of the other people who had gotten to know my Grandpa better than I did. When you live within a 45 minute’s drive at best, you tend to see people more often for Christmas and birthdays and even just on random whims, whereas since I moved to Florida, I’ve probably been back home maybe half a dozen times at best over the last 10 years.

For what it’s worth, though, I do think that we stopped to see Grandpa every single time.

But then I spent a lot of time talking with my family and especially my cousins today, and also with my Dad over the last couple of days, and when I got home tonight I went through about half a dozen photo albums, too, and I knew my Grandpa even if it might not always feel that way when living so far away. Sometimes the details don’t always stand out to you right away when certain people have been such a constant in your life – I may not have gotten to see him as much, but he was always there.

Family Christmases, despite me and my cousins spending a good chunk of our time playing Nintendo in the back bedroom…

Going fishing with him and my Dad…

Countless birthdays when all of our family would come to the house for hamburgers and hot dogs and cake and ice cream…

More recently, I remember getting random messages on our answering machine when they’d have heard on the news that a tornado had touched down somewhere near us or that a hurricane was brewing out in the Gulf, and he just wanted to call to make sure that we were ok.

When I first moved to Florida, he gave me a loan for some money to help me get into my first apartment, which I paid back a year later with interest, along with what I like to remember was a pretty heartfelt letter about how I couldn’t have done it without them.

It’s strange to think about the one house other than my parents’ growing up where I’ve never had to knock on the door first before coming in – that it won’t be the same soon anymore. All of those memories on the walls, and from the fancy rug on the floor, and in that back bedroom, it’s time to pack them up and take those with us now to wherever we go next…

And yet in seeing the makings of our next generation run around that living room and chatting about old times with my cousins and even now seeing my sister’s daughter calling my Dad Grandpa, somehow I guess I see a little bit of both my Grandpa and Grandma in all of that kind of stuff because if there’s one thing they both seemed to love more than anything else, it was having family around.

It didn’t matter what we were doing or what the argument discussion topic of the day was … you could tell just by watching them watch everyone else around them that they were proud parents, and proud grandparents, and proud great grandparents … they were just happy to have a house full of people that they loved, all under the same roof.

At the end of the day, nothing else mattered except for family and both of my grandparents soaked up every last drop of it that they could – everything else would work itself out in due time…

Maybe they were on to something after all. 😉







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