I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to 2016. It’s hard to reflect on the “hellos” of the year because there have been so many “goodbyes”. John Atkinson, Karen Tuttle, Liz Fulton, baby Aaron Samulack, my uncle Dave and now grandpa. It’s a lot all in one year. This last one hits me hardest.
He’s not just any ordinary grandpa. He was really what all grandpa’s should essentially be. That’s not to say he was perfect but in a sense his imperfection made him perfect. He knew the giver of grace intimately and he in turn became a giver of grace. He was wise and kind with a welcoming & giving heart. You didn’t need to be perfect with him but he’d guide you and would pray for you. He had depth beyond all of his wonderful playfulness.
My earliest memories of him are filled with laughter. I used to love when he would get down on the floor with my brother and I to play “horsey”. He didn’t think about his knees or pride, he loved to fool around and laugh. I hope I’ll have the same ‘way’ about me with my grandkids someday.
He and I also had an especially funny game we played, it was a bit of an inside joke. He started imitating the alien puppets from the Muppets one day and we laughted and laughed until we we’re in pain. Even into my teens and adulthood he could make me smile and giggle with a silly, “yup, yup, yup!” or “nope, nope, nope.” I don’t want to forget the sound of his laugh or his voice.
Besides those mentioned above it’s hard to find memories of grandpa that aren’t linked to him in the woods. I remember that silly Billy goats gruff story we played out every time we walked across his bridge. My dad would run ahead and hide under the bridge pretending to be the oger saying, “Who’s that walking on my bridge!?” and grandpa would bear my little girl sheiks all the while “protecting” us from getting eaten by the ogar.
His mark is all over the property and my memory is filled with loving walks and four wheeler rides through those trees, across that bridge, under that tree fort, up that crazy steep hill. Those woods are more alive then any other I’ve ever been in. It will be strange to walk through them without him. Yet somehow I can’t wait to get back in them. As if that’s heaven and I can just go there to see him and I know I’ll see him in heaven.
Almost four years ago he was diagnosed with an aeortic aneurysm. Google told me that meant his aeorta (main arterie) was split in two with a very thin wall, meaning it was weaker and he was at risk of rupture. The doctor recommend he take it easy, give up strenuous hobbies and get his affairs in order. Our whole family was in shock/despair/fear of what was to come… I took some time off work and went to be with him and grandma and to help however I could. That week was filled with conversations about what would happen if he passed away. It doesn’t feel real even now that it’s actually happened. He also shared stories with me about his family and life before marriage. It painted a picture for me of who he is as a person beyond the role of grandpa that I’ll hold in my heart. I’m so thankful we had that special time.
Like my earliest memories, my most recent memories are also filled with laughter. I’m more happy then I can possibly express that just last week he was on the floor fooling around with my son. He was making Micah giggle and laugh in his magical grandpa way. I’m only sad that these days have come to an end.
The memories and grief come in waves that in a way I hope don’t stop for a long time. I want to feel deeply how much he meant to me before I’m through this grieving process. My family patriarch was honorable and deeply loved. May we cherish his memory and live by his prayers.