On Tuesday evening, August 2, I was sitting on my front porch, watching Reilly play in the front yard with the dog, I got word that my Grampa had passed away of a heart attack unexpectedly. He was 86 years old. The fact that I found out before my mom or anyone in my immediate family did and I had to deliver the news to all of them (which included calling a sheriff's office to go and find my mom because she and her husband were camping in a remote area of a mountain and my siblings were not initially answering their phones right away because they were in meetings), did not make it any easier. It was literally shock to adrenaline to get-shit-done-mode to shock to sadness. Also, I process grief with anger, so when I was delivering this news while basically yelling at my siblings that my Grampa had died over and over and over.
That was over two weeks ago. But it literally feels like two days has passed. In the past two weeks, I took a break from damn near everything. I took a few days off of work to help my mom, sister and uncle with the service arrangements and other logistics such as my Grampa's house and car. I didn't post to the blog (other than the scheduled posts that I had already done without knowing the week I would have on Sunday, as I always do) or barely at all to social media (it's a long story, but I found out my Grampa passed away on social media so that left a sour taste in my mouth). I spent a LOT of time unplugged and with family--keeping busy as I could for as much of my time as I could.
I really cannot even put into words how much my Grampa meant to me. He was my absolute favorite person (aside from my kids) in the whole world. He and my Grandma (who passed away from cancer in 2004) gave me every shred of a childhood memory I can think of. They lived the most ordinary life--in a small town in Wyoming, my Grampa worked and my Grandma didn't, they had schnauzers and made small talk at the grocery store. For a couple of years of my childhood, we didn't have a house. While that was going on, my mom, sister, brother and I lived with my grandparents on their farm in Wheatland, Wyoming. My mom homeschooled my sister and I. My Grampa would give us rides on the riding lawnmower. My Grandma would make us homemade treats and dinners every night. My Grampa would work a long day at the power plant and then come home and push us on the tire swing in the front yard until the sun went down. My Grandma would buy Styrofoam balls, needles and sequins and meticulously sit with us while we made Christmas ornaments. One day, my Grandma bought us all kites to go fly in the field. Mine got away from me and flew way up into the sky. I was inconsolable. My Grampa put me in his big diesel truck and drove all over town looking for that kite with the rainbow hearts on it for hours, knowing we would never find it.
My Grampa loved my Grandma so very much. They had the perfect relationship. It was so typical--my Grandma would want something in a certain way and my Grampa would make sure that she got it, even if he muttered how silly it was under his breath. They were always there for each other. My Grampa never said a cruel or disparaging word to my Grandma. They would dance together. My Grampa used to take us each in his strong arms and rock us to "Rockaby Baby" and then let the arm with our backs to it fall at the part where the bough breaks. Once, he grabbed my Grandma, much to her very public and loud disapproval, and did it to her. They would smile at each other during dinner. They would laugh when my Grampa would try to dress my sister and I in the dresses handmade by my Grandma and accidentally think the pinafores were underwear.
My Grampa was everything that a grandfather, father, husband and man should be. He worked hard. He had the best sense of humor. In fact, it was his sense of humor that most people remember about him most. He would pull pranks in the Marines, at the power plant where he retired after decades of years of service there and, of course, with friends and family. My Grampa was always sure to make you laugh. He was a huge fan of the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies. Whenever the Rockies win, you are able to get four tacos for a dollar at Taco Bell and when they win seven runs or more, you can get 50% off of your Papa John's order. I know that because my Grampa would call me, my mom and my sister every time the Rockies won (and got 7 runs or more) to let us know that we were clear to use that deal.
I will miss my Grampa forever and ever. I will miss his voice. I will miss his laugh. I will miss his presence and his guidance. I will miss our weekly Monday morning chats. I will miss his answering machine. I will miss his house. I will miss him asking me constantly if the temperature in the house or car are all right. I will miss his hugs. I will miss the rough papery texture of his hard working hands and the soft stubble of his freshly shaven face. I will miss him refusing to let anyone else take out the trash. I will miss him reminiscing about my Grandma and how beautiful she was. I will miss him gawking in disbelief about people who walk around barefoot. I will miss that he had to turn down his music significantly whenever I called him because he was blaring it so loudly. I will miss absolutely everything about him and who he was.
I am not a religious person. And I don't honestly know if I believe in anything really. But I do know that the only thing that has kept me out of a deep dark depression for the last two weeks is the picture I have in my mind of my grandparents, just as they were before my Grandma got so sick with cancer (she was diagnosed in February of 2004 and died in May of 2004). I picture them on a park bench, surrounded by Columbines and humming birds (my Grandma's favorites), with music playing softly, just catching up on the past 12 years.
Over the next several days, weeks, months, years and holidays, it will get a little easier, even though I know that it will never be the same. I will always miss my grandparents. This week, I will start running again, blogging again, cooking again and all of the things that I normally do but haven't since I found out about my Grampa. It will be hard, but I have to get back to some sort of normalcy in my life. Because one day, I have to give my grandkids the same kind of grandparenting that I was blessed enough to have. It is absolutely priceless.
Trousers, Blouse, Zipper Booties-Kohls