To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Love Like None Other

1930's handsomeness, Gpa on the right
One man in my life has always been my number one. Nobody could ever top him. An unkind word has never been uttered about him. He has always been my number one role model, although I fully admit I am nowhere close to being such a kind soul. He is Grandpa, and Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 1:05pm I held his shoulder and cried at his side while he left me to go be reunited with my grandma, two of his children and all the family pets. My heart is absolutely broken. The only time I have been able to really smile and feel calm is when I'm in his house. There's something about his house. When my pets have died, it was the first place I would go to cry in his arms. When my aunt committed suicide it was the first place we went. As a girl in my 30s, there I was almost on Grandpa's lap with my arms around him, crying. I guess it only felt natural that before I could go home after he passed away, I had to go to his house and cry on his bed. Such a great man.

In the last two days my mom and I have been at his house going through old photos and memorabilia. This person that has always been perfect in my eyes has reached a whole new level of wonderful to me. I did learn that I am a merge of my grandparents -- I take tons of pictures like Grandma did, and I organize and label them like Grandpa! It was going through these organized, labeled photos that I could feel his love for my grandma. Just thinking about it makes me cry. This man loved this woman so much. I found a letter today that my grandpa wrote to his grandparents on my grandma's birthday when he was away in the Army. He wrote how the phone calls were delayed and he really hoped his would go through because Eunice would be so sad if he couldn't call. He also talked about a photo he had sent his grandparents, and commented on how beautiful she was in it. In his Army scrapbook that HE made (and labeled!), you could even see by the captions how he was head over heels for "Blackie". Such a romantic side that I didn't know about! And let me tell you, he was quite the looker, as was she. Good looking kids, they even made headlines in town when they got married!

But his love wasn't just for Grandma.  We found report cards for his children. Newspaper clippings of everything. He even had newspaper clippings of his parents' wedding announcement! Graduation announcements, programs from student plays, a chopped off ponytail from one of his girls.  Sentimental and sweet. 

Any person that knew him could see how kind he was. In these short days since he left us we've received so many comments and stories, some intimately private, of how he was such a help to them. He seemed to have impacted so many outside of our family just by being himself. He was so giving. He donated time, money, clothing. He would deliberately go buy things just so he could donate them to a good cause. As a pharmacist he went above and beyond. He was not like any pharmacist that exists today. I describe him as being a real life Norman Rockwell painting.  And you know what he did not do? He didn't brag about it. Things we are learning are things none of us ever knew. He was so humble. He didn't need to tell people that he saved a woman's life. He just did it because it was the right thing to do. 

This is rambling and I don't care. Did you know Grandpa was my roommate? Or maybe I should say I was his housemate. When I moved home from Florida I lived with him for a few months while I worked on the house that I rented from him. He was the best housemate. Every day he made me lunch without me even asking. I one time mentioned how I was craving a maple bar. The next morning I woke up and he had gotten me two! Each morning I'd go walking through his bedroom to the bathroom to shower. This is something he was so familiar with as he had 3 daughters that all grew up doing the same thing. And did he mind? Heck no! I think Grandpa loved having us all around! Even up until the day of his accident he was always saying "Ronnie Rae, don't you go buying such and such. You come check with me first, I probably have it!" I'm completely capable of cooking for myself or buying my own crock pots, but he loved any opportunity to give and do anything for any of his family.  Last month I locked my keys in my car, and thus was locked out of my house. He didn't hesitate to get in his truck and come rescue me. He was always rescuing me in his own way!

The point I was intending to make was that he loved unconditionally. He had five children. His memorabilia stashes show how important each one of them was to him. And grandchildren too. I have to laugh when my mom whines because compared to her oldest siblings, she is hardly in any photos. And I'm sure my cousins would groan over how many photos there are of me. But my mom is STILL camera shy. And apparently I've just always been a ham in front of a camera. I had no idea! And come on, I'm named after the man. He HAS to have tons of my photos. All the way until junior high I was probably at his house more than my own. So many nights I slept between him and Grandma. We'd all have ice cream in bed and watch Murder She Wrote and the Discovery Channel before I would roll over to sleep. I'm the only one in the family that was lulled to sleep by Grandpa's snore.  Even earlier this week I smiled and was excited when I sat in the hospital room listening to my grandpa snore. To say I'm a Grandpa's Girl is the biggest understatement ever. He even gave me away at my first wedding, and was so handsome while doing so! 

But now my sweet, perfect grandpa is gone. He's never going to be fully gone and certainly never forgotten. I can only hope that those of us that knew him would try to be more like him. Let's all try to be nicer. Let's all accept each other. If Grandpa disliked something, he'd just be quiet and shake his head. I'm going to try just shaking my head more. Let's all try to be generous. Let's all help each other and strangers. Let's all love more. I'm sure we all love people and just don't say it as much as we should. So let's try that, too! If I've learned anything from this week it is that you have no idea when your life could completely change.  Days ago my grandpa was independent, walking, driving, living on his own. He left his home to meet us for our standard Wednesday lunch date. After lunch, being the kind man he is, he went to the store to get a birthday cake and ice cream for a dear friend with Alzheimers who didn't even know who he was anymore. Doing something so sweet, and then one slight error caused everything to change. He never got to go home or share that birthday cake. This could happen to any of us at any day and any time. So I think while we are all still here and able, let's just try to be better and love better! I feel pretty damn lucky that I had the greatest relationship with him and continue to learn even more about how caring he was. Every moment in my life, he's been there for it. I don't know how to be without my Grandpa, but I will certainly try to be more like him!