I think part of the reason I've not felt myself the past few days and just sort of out of it, overly stressed, anxious and emotional is that it was one year ago that I lost my grandpa. He was my last grandparent. Neil's last grandparent as well. (Grandpa was very much a grandpa to Neil. He loved Neil a lot and was very proud of him. Neil knew grandpa for 13 years.) But he wasn't just a grandparent. I loved him so so much. He cared about me so much. He told me so. He told me he loved me - a lot. He came to every one of my children's birthday parties or celebrations of some sort. He came to every one of my celebrations growing up. He was a busy man. A farmer. A very well-known farmer. Everyone knew him, but they also loved him. So many people loved him because he was a phenomenal man. Sure, he made mistakes. We all do. But what I saw, as a granddaughter, was a man who was unbeatable and would do anything for anybody . . . kind of like a superhero. He was my Superman.
I feel so incredibly blessed because I was with him, holding his hand, as he took his last breath. I remember those moments so well that I think I could tell you minute-by-minute what happened. I didn't leave him side for 2 whole days. I spent the night at the nursing home with my mom, and Great Aunt Shirley (Dad and Jerry were there part of the time, too). I couldn't leave him. He had to know I was there. He knew how much I loved him. He may not have been alert (I felt in my hear that "he" was already gone), but he knew that I was there, and that's all I wanted. I wanted him to know I wasn't going to leave a man who gave me so much for 30 years.
I hate it that I remember one year ago so well. I hate it because these are the freshest memories I have of him. He wasn't himself. He was really just a body laying there struggling for life. A body that had quickly whithered in a few short months. Like I said, I knew he was gone. But it was still probably one of the toughest moments of my life knowing that he was going to die in front of me at any moment but not know exactly when. I prayed that he would just die after every struggling breath he took. I prayed out loud, which if you know me, that isn't something I do. I'm very private with my faith. I prayed selfishly that he would just die because I couldn't take it anymore seeing him in the state he was in. I had never seen a person die in this way before. Man, grandpa was stubborn.
It was so incredibly hard to sit there with grandpa as he left us. But I did. And even though those are the last memories I have, I am thankful for that time because it changed me. It was the least I could give back to him after all he had done for me, and taught me, in my lifetime. I don't regret sitting there with him. I don't regret bringing my children in to see him die. I don't regret petting his bitterly cold head. I don't regret kissing him goodbye. This is what you do when you love someone. You are there with them until they are gone. You do what you can to be the strength and pillar that that person was for you.
I miss him so much still. I think about him every day. Pictures all around my house remind me of him and the person he was when he was the strong healthy happy farmer father-figure that I knew.
Today I pray that grandpa is inside the Pearly Gates. I think he is, but I don't know for certain. No one really knows for certain. He was a Christian. And so I hope. And I hang on to that hope. That's what gets me by, knowing in my heart that one day I will see him again, that one day I will see all my grandparents again. That one day I'll see all my loved ones again. That's all we can do is hope.
Loving and missing you, grandpa.
Thankfully, this is how I will remember him most . . .
me and grandpa