Let me back up. I usually go to my grandparents for Christmas. I didn't go this year. After all my bitching about Thanksgiving, I didn't even call them. In my defense I had what I thought was a kidney infection, and all I wanted to do was go to bed. But, it's not excuse. I struggled with feeling guilty about not seeing them, but his health was poor the last few weeks and in the end I'm OK with not seeing him like that. That's not how I want to remember him. I don't want that to be my son's last thoughts of him either.
I've always called my grandpa my Papa. Even now, at age 35. Even when my mom called me at 3 in the morning, she said, "Holli? Papa died". People teased me for it, and I didn't care. He wasn't just a "grandpa", he was special to me.
My parent's separated when I was two years old. Mom moved to another city with my grandma and grandpa. My dad visited, but he wasn't exactly a fixture in my life. I saw him on weekends. My grandpa always held a special place in my heart. He was very much the man figure in my life. Some of my best memories as a child are of playing with my cousins at my grandparents house. Sitting on my grandpa's lap eating pickled bologna. Fishing with him. Catching a gigantic fish when I was in kindergarten. Digging for worms in the back yard. He was the timekeeper for a local race club and I spent many Saturday mornings with him at the races. I have so many memories of him, and they are all good.
My grandpa was a good man. He was a lot like me- didn't like to talk about himself, kept his feelings to himself, but wore his heart on his sleeve. He loved us kids so much, and I don't doubt for a second he would give his life for any one of us. I always knew if I needed anything my grandparents would help me, and they did many times.
One of the things that sticks out in my mind about Brenna's funeral is my Papa's face. He couldn't even look up at the pastor. I could tell it was tearing him up inside.
I had 35 years with my grandparents, and I consider myself lucky. My son is almost 15 years old and he has so many great memories of my Papa, and I am so thankful for that.
Here is one of my favorite pictures of my grandpa and my son:
This was taken in 2003. My Papa got my son involved in running the races with the running club he kept time for. Today, track is my son's favorite sport and I think it has a lot to do with those early years he spent running with my Papa.
My life is not going to be the same without my Papa in it. There is one less person in this world who loves me. I find peace in knowing he went to sleep and never woke up. He died peacefully.
That is all any of us can ask for.
(Yes, the first picture is of tiny me and my oldest brother with my Papa.)