I was standing in front of my closet tonight, putting socks away, picking out my clothes for tomorrow and realized my grandpa was gone. It's not a new thought, and one that I've thought about a lot over the last few days, but the sadness rolled over me. I didn't cry, as I have before, but I simply realized how much I will miss him and how sad I am that he is not here.
The tears come when I think about how much he means to me.
My mom became pregnant with me in 1977, and her boyfriend (my biological father) didn't really care what she did - abort, put up for adoption, keep. She left him and returned home, intent on going to a woman's home to finish out her pregnancy and put me up for adoption. She eventually told her parents.
Mom hadn't told me this part of the story, but she shared it last week as we were planning his funeral. When my grandma broached the subject, Grandpa was silent for a long time. In my mind, I imagine my mom and grandma talking and figuring things out, and Grandpa sitting there quietly. He finally said, "I don't want a grandchild of mine out there and not with our family." My mom kept me.
At this point, I usually segue into the story of my parents and how they met, how my father adopted me and what a gift he is to me.
But here, I will tell you this: When my mom told me my grandpa had passed away, I thought, "He was the first man in my life, and one of the most consistent."
Grandpa wasn't a particularly kind man to his children. That's just a fact. He was gruff and irritable with them as they grew up. But he loved his grandkids and he became more and more of a softie as time went by, until he was such a sweet and kind man that the hospice workers wept when he passed away.
This is the grandpa I always remember. I was always very special to my grandpa, and though he would never hurt his other grandkids, I think he had a special love for the bright, bubbly little toddler that almost was given up for adoption.
Because I loved him so much, his Catholicism was concerning. Did he love Jesus? Did he trust Mary more than Jesus? I never really had the courage to ask him straight out.
As he began to decline, he would always grasp hands with my mom and pray with her, and my aunt always read him scripture when she visited weekly.
My aunt Gloria read to him Philippians 2 on Wednesday. He was lucid and responded to it with a hearty "Amen!"
On Thursday, he slipped into a coma and Friday morning around 3 am he passed away. I am confident that he believed in Jesus and that his faith was simple. He wasn't a theologian, but he did treasure communion and he missed going to church when he was in hospice.
My Grandpa served in WWII and was given a military burial, which undid me. Try keeping it together as the officer tells your grandma,
"This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service," and "These spent casings represent Duty, Honor and Country."
|His Grandsons bearing him to his final resting place|
He was honorable, he served his country, he loved his family well.
I will love him - always.