This Monday, 15 August 2011, my amazing, wonderful, loving, funny, caring grandfather passed away.
It wasn’t entirely a shock, as his health had gone downhill recently, but he was always larger than life in my mind; I thought he would live forever. Witty, smart, fun, warm. The perfect patriarch, he supported his children and grandchildren, pushed us when we needed pushing, helped us up when we scraped our knees, gave us countless hugs, kisses, and smiles. I am so grateful that I was able to spend time with him when I was home for my bachelorette party two weekends ago. I cherish those hours we spent together.
I keep thinking of moments I had with him each smile and phrase leads to another memory, another moment spent together. More stories, more emotions. It’s funny how thoroughly my interactions with him are woven throughout my memories of childhood, growing up, and into adulthood. He was so present in the lives of his children and grandchildren. I grasp at these fragmented thoughts and memories, writing them down so I don’t forget.
He was so excited about our wedding, and I am incredibly sad that he will not be there to witness our love and joy that day. Always social and out-going, he loved big events and relished in time spent with family and friends. With just over a week until our wedding, his passing has left me with a rip-tide of emotions that I am still trying to process.
A deep mourning, of course. He has been a rock of stability in my life for so long that, while I feel a keen sense of loss and a quiet, persistent sorrow, I also feel that the part of my life and heart that he occupied is still full, still present. I know that he will always be there.
Guilt, that I will be celebrating and happy when he is not there to join in. Guilt that my family has to continue dealing with the hassles of the wedding, when they should be focusing on family, and him.
Anger, that God called him away from us, but also acceptance and understanding that it was his time to go.
Blessed, because he was so involved in my life. Blessed, for all of the time I was able to spend with him. Blessed. Blessed and loved.
There are more, of course, but I do not care to try to examine or understand them. I just know they are present, when he is not.
He would, of course, dislike our sadness. If he were here, he would say something funny a joke, or a witty remark to lighten the mood and get us to smile. So, a few memories of him to make me smile:
- Bookar Park, and other nicknames
- Him, mowing the lawn in his swim trunks, always so tan from the summer sun
- Him, walking over every morning to take our dog out
- Him, eating corn on the cob outside by the fireplace
- His hands helping me find strawberries and tomatoes from the container garden
- Him, showing me how to use his old typewriter in the basement
- All of his baseball caps
- “Of course you do, my dearie”
- Him, singing with his buddies at our Christmas parties
- Him, dressing up as Santa Claus when we were little
- Him, always asking me to try lutefisk at our gatherings
- His love for Grandma
- His love of dogs
- His love for me
When we were little, we would love swimming in their pool. They filled it with icy-cold creekwater, so in the early summer the pool would be freezing. My sister, cousins and I would stand at the water’s edge, dipping our toes in, not wanting to take that first dunk.
He would walk up behind us, saying “You have to do it like this. You just crash in…” and he would plunge in backwards with abandon, “and push off!” We always shrieked with laughter, and followed suit.
I love using that phrase now, because to me, he wasn’t just teaching us how to brave the cold water. He was encouraging us to pursue things we love with no reservations, to plunge in without constantly worrying, to embrace things that might make us uncomfortable or that were out of our realm of understanding, to make our mark on the world. To crash in, and push off.