The loss of a great man

I can’t think of an appropriate title for this post.

Today is something of a special day.  Even typing that seems odd, honestly the things we anniversary.  Last year, about this time of day, I learned that my grandpa had passed away.

This is a normal part of life, but at 26 years of age I had lost my first grandparent.  That isn’t exactly true since I had a paternal grandfather pass when I was about 8 but I maybe met him once and he was the (as I understood it) estranged father of my father, my mom had remarried and her husband and his family are my family.  

My grandpa was sick for about 3 years before he passed and it was the hardest thing I have had to watch.  He was one of my all time favorite people in the world, I had maybe seen a tear in his eye exactly once in my life and he and my grandma retired to a hobby farm where they had cows, chickens, and a vegetable garden. He was still chopping wood and loading a wood stove to heat their house when he got sick.

I wasn’t prepared for the hurt that comes with such a loss.  The uncertainty that becomes life.  Even though I was 26, I somehow still thought my grandpa was invincible – he wasn’t.  Of course I knew he wouldn’t be around forever, I knew  that some day I would have to live a life absent of his jokes, and I knew with each passing year that day was getting closer.  What I didn’t know was how much I really loved him.  I knew I did, and I knew it would be hard, but you really don’t know until you know how much it hurts.

If I could change anything from the last months of his life, I wish I would have named my daughter after him.  My daughter – the first born of his first born daughter’s daughter – was the last baby he held.  My grandpa wasn’t a man of many words and he would hang out in the background when it came to mushy family things, but on Easter last year he asked to hold her – not exactly characteristic of my grandpa, but possibly the most amazing gift he has given me.  I just wish that she had the privilege to know him as I did.  I can only hope that her grandpa will dig out slivers with a pocket knife, plant her favorite veggies in his garden, tease her about selling cookies from a garbage can, and give her a hard time about ‘boots’ the boy down the street.

I am told time heals all wounds but today it hurts just about as much as it did then, today I am just as empty without him as I was then, and I am just as honored to feel that hurt as I was then.  My grandpa was the first man in my life to show me true love – and with great love there is great risk of loss.  If he can see us or hear us I hope he is proud of the family he left behind.  

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