Yesterday, we got the call I had been dreading. My grandfather, my most favorite person, had left us to join my grandma and God in Heaven. We were as prepared as you could be when losing someone who means so much to you. For the past 6 months or so, it’s been a roller coaster with his health and we knew our time was dwindling. We missed him dearly at our wedding, but we knew it was a possibility that he wouldn’t be able to make it – so I had pictures on hand, just in case.
My grandmother passed away when I was just over 1 year old (damn you, colon cancer). But after that, I got to grow up in the same house as my grandfather for the next 17 years, and got even closer to him in the 9 years after I moved out.
People continue to say that heaven gained an angel. That he was a kind man, a role model. What a wonderful example he was to all of us. But that’s not the half of it. He was the best. He was the a man with a big heart who would help anyone. And he would drop everything to help. He was a man who stuck to his word. Had lunch with his sister on Sundays, and I remember he would stop by to see his mom on Thursdays after visits to the stockyard. He loved his family and always made sure to get us our $10 for our birthdays. And more than that, he was so proud of us, all of us, even for the tiniest of accomplishments. He was even proud of my dog for all the tricks he knew. He was so proud of an essay I wrote in 5th grade, that he had me invited me to his Ruritan meeting to read it and have dinner.
I never heard him say a cross word about anyone, except for maybe that they were a “dummy.” I remember him calling me a dummy once. I had my first bike and asked him to take my training wheels off for me. He dropped everything and removed those extra wheels. I climbed on and rode my bike straight into the side of a building. That’s when I heard Paw Paw say “What’d you do that for, you big dummy?” Apparently, I had forgotten to tell him that I didn’t actually know how to ride a bike without training wheels.
When my Paw Paw started getting sick, someone said that he was eating sweets for all of his meals. Little did they know that there were many days long before that when we had Swiss Cake Rolls for breakfast and eclairs for lunch. I loved spending days with my Paw Paw. We always got biscuits & gravy for breakfast and if it was a Thursday, we went to the Stockyard for an auction. We’d have lunch there while I begged him to bid on a horse; unfortunately, he only had eyes for Charolais cattle.
I think if we can all take a little bit of Paw Paw’s attitude with us in life, we’ll be ok. Love unconditionally and forever. Be nice to everyone you meet. Listen when others are talking. Always have a dog or two in your life. Try before you ask for help, you can probably figure it out. Spend when you need to, but save as much as you can. Have cake for breakfast. And do what makes you happy.
While it’s hard to say goodbye to the best man I’ve ever known, I have to believe he is in a better place now. And that he was happy and knew how much he was loved. I mean, who else could get 25 people surrounding him in a room with just one phone call? He felt lucky to have us, but we were really the lucky ones to have him in our lives.