I have started to write something about you many times, but the moment I begin I start crying and can’t really stop. At your service I couldn’t speak, despite wanting to more than anything. I couldn’t stop crying until the service was almost over. And even then I think the only reason I stopped was because I was too exhausted to continue. You always knew I was a terrible crier. You’d say “Come here babe” and give me a hug and tell me things were going to be fine. Even into my 20’s I’d sit on your lap and talk to you just to sit there because it was comforting. How many 20 year old’s can sit on their grandpa’s lap and feel the immense amount of love I felt from you every time I was around you?
This week, on the 25th, you would have been 92.
But in December a couple years back now, your life ended suddenly, without any warning, and you left us. It’s still hard for me to process you not being here. I can’t really think about it or talk about it. I think a part of me is still unable to process it all, even years later. Just last week I heard something on the news and instantly thought to myself, “I have to tell Grandpa” and then I remembered that you were gone. It hurt.
It always hurts. Despite this reality and the pain when I think about you, I think its important to remember how lucky I was to have you as my grandpa – to have had your influence over my life for so many years, to have had your knowledge shared with me. To have had your guidance, your support.
You were always, always there for me.
You were there for me while I was growing up– when I was so vulnerable to the life going on around me. You were there for me when I was a pre-teenager and my parents got divorced, when my mom got remarried and her husband kicked out my cat… Grandpa, you didn’t even like cats! And you took mine in and took great care of him for so long. You were there for me when I was so upset with my broken family, when I didn’t understand what was going on with them. You were there for me years later in college when I wanted to sail around the world on Semester at Sea, when I wasn’t sure about my last boyfriend, when I moved to Colorado, when I decided to start hiking 14ers and discovered my love of camping. You were ALWAYS there. You spent hours on the phone with me when I moved away… and when I visited, even when I was so busy or you were, we’d catch up over breakfast in Stockton. Before your open heart surgery you made sure I was okay, and that my dog was okay. You did this because you weren’t sure if you’d make it through the surgery, and you wanted to check in on me and of course give me some last bits of advice….. just incase. You used to think of everything. And in what could have been your final hours, you were thinking of me.
You were, without a doubt, the most loving grandfather I could have asked for.
I have so many amazing memories that I don’t ever want to leave my mind & heart. They’re painful to think of because they remind me that you’re gone. But they’re memories that I cherish more than I can express.
Going to Escalon when I was little and visiting with your parents. I will never forget the drive – you’d teach me all about the trees we’d pass along the way. You’d point out various types of tractors and cars and town landmarks. Your dad loved marble fudge ice cream. We always got ice cream and KFC hot wings together, and you’d brag to your friends that I could eat the hottest hot sauce, and I liked it! Even though I was not even 10 years old. We’d have a challenge– first one to see the KFC sign wins! We’d drive down that road headed towards our favorite lunch spot and of course you knew you’d see it first… But you always let me win.
I remember you taking me to my horse riding lessons. You were so patient. You never missed a day. I can’t believe how Modesto has grown since those days. That area, with the orchards where the huge horse barn was? It looks completely different now.
Our road trips: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Yellowstone, all over California.
Our Colorado trip! You took me 4 wheeling and you were, what, 82? That’s nuts! I remember I was so late to getting to the cabin you were staying in because I got a bit lost. You had been pacing when I arrived and told me how scared you were that I got into an accident or hit a deer and you were about to call the sheriff. Then you proceeded to tell me bear stories as we headed out to explore the mountain side on the 4 wheeler. Can’t say many 82 year olds would be so cool! What a cherished day.
Our trips to the flea markets.
You buying so many little figurines for me while I was a teenager because I was obsessed with the tiny glass animals. You’d travel all over… To New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada. You never came home from a trip empty handed. I would give anything to have those tiny animals today.
You finding Backstreet Boys memorabilia for me because you knew how much I loved them.
Slipping a wad of cash in my hand quietly before Semester at Sea and telling me “Now don’t spend it all in one country” and encouraging me to have the time of my life because there is nothing quite like traveling. You and my dad were my biggest supporters when it came to Semester at Sea. You always were one of my biggest supporters.
The constant joke: “I’m going to live to be 110 and get shot by a jealous ex-husband” – oh, how I wish you could have lived to be 110. To meet Ben. To meet my first child.
It’s so hard not having you to share things with. Your memory left a little as you aged, but it only left sometimes… most of the time you were sharp as a tack. Especially with me.
Up until that night in December, when we celebrated Christmas Eve a night early, and I spent the evening with you. Your mind was there. A few days later your body would fail and you left us.
It’s been two and a half years now. I have these moments sometimes, and now more often that in the first year, where I think “I have to call Grandpa” or more commonly, “I need to call Grandpa” and then I remember… Oh. You’re gone. And it’s this overwhelming sadness all over again.
I still can’t really talk about you too much. Not even to Dad. But, time is healing (slowly) and I try now more than I did early on. I talk about you to Ben. And I started this blog entry two plus years ago… and I’m finally able to finish it. You wouldn’t want me to be sad. You’d say that you were old and ready to go and lived a good life.
Anyway. Happy birthday week! Sometimes I like going through the cards you saved from me over the years. One of them still has the confetti in it that I sent with your birthday card. I think I must have been 10 years old when I drew “I love you” all over your birthday card, stuffed that envelope with confetti and mailed it. And of course, you saved it. I have it now, along with many other letters and cards I sent over the years that you saved, and they’re some of my most prized possessions!
I guess it’s only fitting to end this letter by letting you know that I decided Ben and I, if lucky enough to have a baby boy some day, will be naming him Archie. When I first brought the idea up to Ben he immediately jumped on board. My mom told me recently you didn’t love your first name. I don’t ever remember you saying that to me. I know you didn’t like your middle name. As you aged, and your friends re-named you Sparky, I think Archie actually grew on you 😉 But even if you didn’t like it much… I sure like it. And can you believe it, Prince Harry and his wife recently named their first born Archie? They totally stole your name for their baby, Pops!
So, yes, some day I hope we do have a boy so I can tell him all about where his name came from. I can spend hours telling him about his Great Great Grandpa, the man who changed my life.
I miss you pops,