Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The One About My Grandpa

I've been thinking about my grandpa a lot lately. My grandpa passed away last year. In the midst of all the craziness that was going on in our lives. It was one more thing to bottle and stuff down deep inside. But now we are dealing with all the things that happened last year and thus my grandpa has been on my mind.

My grandpa wasn't one of those sweet grandpas who swooped you up on his lap and read you books when you came to visit. He was a big old tough as nails tower of a man. He was stern and old fashioned. He was a "you better say yes sir and yes ma'am" type of guy. He expected us to behave properly and give respect. I remember a specific instance when I didn't call my Aunt Jennifer "AUNT" Jennifer. Aunt Jen was 6 years older than me so she didn't seem like an aunt. She was like one of the cousins. So the slip was natural. But my grandpa towered over me and game me what for. From there on it was AUNT Jennifer. I think as he got older his demeanor changed and he softened up. My younger cousins got a different grandpa that we older cousins got. But we moved away when I was 11 so I didn't get much of an opportunity to know that sweet grandpa.

In 2009 my grandpa was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Directly after his first chemo treatment (He was determined to fight since my Aunt Jennifer fought her cancer so hard before succumbing to it in 2008) he ended up in the ICU. My grandma was told to gather family and that he wouldn't make it. We all hopped on overnight flights from all over the country to come say our good byes. It was hard to see my big strong tower of a grandpa in such a frail state where he couldn't even speak. But we all did our best to say goodbye properly. Then my grandma allowed them to take him off the machines and meds. And that's when grandpa proved just how strong he is and how this whole death thing was going to be on HIS terms. He somehow got better. They had to move him out of ICU (as there was no treatment for him) & into a regular room. Where he continued to improve. Talk. Stand up. Crack his smart ass jokes. It was confusing. Then they released him home to hospice. Where he hung on. For almost a year! Have you ever heard the term "Heaven won't have me and hell's afraid I'll take over"? Yes. My grandpa was tough as nails and he was going to do it HIS way.

So like I said, I've been thinking about him. I have two memories of my grandfather that I will always hold dear. The first was when I went to visit Ohio for my cousin's wedding. I ended up getting really bad food poisoning & my grandma was gone for the night. It was just me and grandpa. I was soooooo ill. And I have never seen my grandpa so concerned. He took such amazing care of me that night. He was soft and caring and worried. It is one of my fondest memories of him. The second was when he was on his "death bed". Once he was released to hospice at his house we all sat and waited. His pastor came over one afternoon and we gathered around his bed and held hands and I got to pray with my grandparents and my mother and a few other family members. It was one of the most special moments of my life.

Yeah, my grandpa was a tough as nails kind of guy. But he was an amazingly strong man who did it his way up until the end. The end HE chose. Not the doctors. I miss him. And I'm grateful for these two special memories I have of him. I know he's up in heaven in the softest recliner ever watching boxing and holding hands with my Aunt Jennifer.


  1. Sounds like quite the character. I've been working on a "grand-dad" post of my own. It's been over 10 years since I lost him (he was my last surviving grandparent), but it still doesn't make things any different. My wife would have loved to have gotten to know him. He'd be overjoyed to hold his grandson & granddaughter.

    Like yours, he softened up over time, but I only ever knew the soft version of him. Miss him, a lot.

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  3. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to my father. He was not only "tough as nails" but sensitive, cerebral and artistic. I learned lots from him and miss him dearly.

    Love you, mamala