My grandfather’s passing is something I am still processing, so this post may ramble a bit, but I feel the need to write it. The loss of my grandfather is particularly acute today because it is Father’s Day.

The one thing that I feel has become very clear is that death is what makes time precious. If people lived forever, the time spent with them would lose it’s value. The small moments wouldn’t be important. It is only because people aren’t forever that time with them is so precious.

When I think about the time with my grandfather, I realize just how short it is. The memories that I have are all those “everyday” moments. Those are the precious ones. There are things I want my boys to know about their “Grandpa Great”.

My grandfather was a family man. He wasn’t always affectionate, but there was never a doubt about what was important to him…his family. He was instrumental in organizing family reunions. Some of my best memories are from those reunions. For the reunion on my grandmother’s side, Grandpa was the one who organized and cooked for the pancake breakfast. He was a tiny man, but he wore this giant chef’s hat. It always made me giggle. At those reunions he taught me to play horseshoes, baseball, volleyball, and to fish. He went hiking, caving, rafting, and rappelling with me. We always stayed in his camper. He taught me the right way to clean a fish and play poker in the camper.

My grandfather loved baseball. I vividly remember being taught how to hit and pitch at a pretty young age. He was a stickler for the rules. We played with “real” baseball rules even when we were small. his love of the game was infectious. The sights, sounds, and smells of the ball field are all intertwined with my memories of my grandfather (he always smelled a bit like the dirt on a field). He was a minor league umpire for many years. My mom said that as a small child I thought all umpires were my grandfather.

My grandfather loved the outdoors. Some of my favorite summertime memories involve feeding and watching birds and squirrels with my grandfather. He taught me the names of all the birds and what they ate. He loved cardinals. I have them in my yard now. They always make me think of him. I know just what to feed them too! I also have squirrels. My mom was impressed by my squirrel feeders when she visited. She pointed out that they are “just like grandpa’s”. I know he would have loved my yard! I wish he had had an opportunity to visit it!

As a small child, my favorite thing was to “do” grandpa’s hair. I have pictures of me as a small child standing on grandpa’s recliner. He was sitting in front of it, with his hair loaded with pink foam curlers. I had a comb in my hand, “fixing” the hair not yet in rollers! My mother tells me that he would play this game with me for hours! Given my grandpa’s fairly tough exterior, I know this is a true sign of how much he loved me!

One of the things that pleases me is knowing that as I pass all of this onto my own boys, my grandfather’s wisdom and love live on. I also hope that I pass onto them how precious and short that life is! They didn’t get to know him in person, but I hope that they will get to know him through my memories.

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