It's been over a month and I still cry every single day. I have many photos up of my grandpa back when he was a teenager in high school, and a newlywed Army Sergeant. When I see photos of MY Grandpa as I knew him, then it gets way too real. He wasn't supposed to leave me yet. He still seemed so young and healthy. Man Friend and I talk about things a lot while I keep trying to process different things. Today I had to tell myself that I was lucky that I never had to see my Grandpa "become a burden" that he was so determined to not become. Until the end he always had his dignity. So now I have wonderful memories and can even look back on our last days and smile over special moments even in the hospital.
On November 3rd back in the late 1970s, Grandpa sat in his chair pretending to read his newspaper, while sneaking glances over the top at my mom while she was in the early stages of labor. At 4am on the 4th of November I made my grand appearance into this world. For the next 36 years and 4 months, that man and I had a very special relationship that can't be replicated. Around maybe 6 years old (??) Grandpa gave me my first taste of alcohol. We were in his boat in the driveway and he was preparing things for a trip to the cabin. He had a beer and I asked if I could have a sip. He laughed and said sure ---- you can all thank Grandpa for why I still hate beer to this day! So gross! But then when I was in college Grandpa gave me one of my first drinks of alcohol again ... his blackberry brandy! For Christmas this year what did Grandpa give me? A bottle of blackberry brandy .... some of which we passed around and had sips of at the cemetery after his first service! Grandpa took me to my first OSU football game. He helped me move into my dorm freshman year. He was even my dad one year for Dad's Weekend, and a chilly fall weekend that was! The first time I ever hosted Christmas was last year, and Grandpa was here for yummy breakfast, the parade and presents. I loved being able to have everyone in my home for a holiday for the first time!
There are so many 'firsts' that I have with Grandpa next to me. But sadly there are some 'lasts' as well. I get sad remembering, but then they are also memories and I am happy to have them. The last run I've had started and ended at his house. He knew I was going to have a great run before I left, and when I came home he still gave me big hugs even though I was all sweaty and stinky. Probably the last visit I will make to our local Red Robin was with Grandpa. The last phone calls before the hospital - I was the last to call him, I was the last person he called. His last steps outside in the fresh air were with me as I helped him into the car. But there are two lasts that make me cry every time I think of them, and summarize the bond between us Rons. Monday evening I stood at his side, still optimistic that he would be coming home. I would be getting to continue my Pinterest cooking experiments, and he would continue to be my guinea pig. I was looking forward to college football games and having Grandpa over to watch with me next to the fire. The future, I thought, was going to be just as it always was. Before I left to follow mom out of his hospital room, I bent over to give him a hug. It was then that I got his last kiss he was able to give. The next day my world flipped upside down when I entered his dark room and knew that I only had a short time left. Three of us sat at his side. I practically shooed the nurse out of my way so I could be right at his side as close as possible. It was silent, only noises of his last breaths and our tears. I couldn't take my eyes off of his face, nor my hand off of his shoulder. One at a time we talked to Grandpa. It was that day that I leaned over and gave Grandpa his very last living kiss. People always remember first kisses, but not me. Those two last kisses mean more than any others.
In this last month and a half I have been trying to figure out how to live without my favorite person. I've spent a lot of time in his chair and on his bed. I only use his bathroom, versus the main bathroom. I use his kitchen chair when we have lunch there. I listen to his music. I wear his slippers and sweatshirt. And while doing all of that I've been working really hard on his memorial service. It's the last official event for Grandpa and I want it to be as nice as it can be. Pictures, music, memories .... I've been surrounded by it. I cry a lot, but I always smile a lot, too... and it helps!
I hear my favorite Eddy Arnold song and I always immediately see my Grandpa's smiling face. I always have. It wasn't until he was gone that I realized I still don't hear Eddy Arnold singing, I hear my grandpa singing. He had such a lovely voice, if I do say so myself! So when I decided to do a photo tribute to Grandpa and set it to music, without hesitation I knew Eddy Arnold had to be included. For some reason that music never gets old to me. Even my last time I was at the cemetery two days ago I sat down in the grass with my grandparents and played Eddy Arnold and sang along for them. It just makes me happy. Strange as it may seem, good ol' Eddy Arnold has been a huge help in my grieving process. So without further ado, here's my video tribute to my favorite person!