Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I went to bed like normal tonight, but was unable to sleep. I have too many thoughts on my mind and to much sadness in my heart to sleep, so I decided to blog.

A couple of hours ago, my Dad called me from the hospital and told me that Mom and my Aunt had made the difficult decision to let Grandpa go. We saw him on Saturday, and he was bad, but I was hopeful. After all, he's my Grandpa, and he's always been there and he's always gotten better whenever he was sick or hurt. But not this time. The infection is MRSA, the worst kind of infection you can have, and it's gotten the best of him. He knew we were there on Saturday, and even knew who we were, but he was in a lot of pain then and was not with us most of the time. Today, after talking to the Dr., his girls decided to honor his living will and let him go.

He's still here, but he's not.

So many memories, so many feelings...

Grandpa was 41 when I was born. 41. That's very young to become a grandparent. We've got 4 generation pictures of me, my mom, Grandpa, and his father, Great Grandad. You always think of your grandparents as being "old", but...he was only 41, young...very young. And strong. My grandpa has always been very strong, and was a big, powerful man. A quiet man. The words "I love you," aren't words I remember him saying--ever. But he showed us love every day with big, power, bear hugs, the kind that would leave us all breathless, and would have us begging "Grandpa, you're squishing me!" He'd chuckle and let us go, but we'd always come back for more. And that chuckle...deep, low, quiet. Grandpa was a quiet man in laughter and in life.

Always unassuming, always putting others before himself. Even with this last illness, I'd ask how he felt, and he'd say "Oh, I think I'm doing better today." When he admits he doesn't feel well, well then, he really didn't feel well.

Grandpa was the middle child in a family of 12 children. His closet companion was his next older brother, Joe, who was 2 years older than Grandpa. Like all little boys, they got in more than their fair share of mischief. Like wiping green paint on the chickens--so Mom wouldn't know that they'd been in the paint. Not thinking that she would probably notice that her red chickens were now green. Grandpa said they ran when she hollered for them, and that Joe got up the tree first, and Grandpa was the one caught and punished. Joe's punishment waited until Mom had cooled off.

When Grandpa was 14 or so, he went to live with some cousins near Hutchinson, KS. They needed help on the farm and Grandpa's parents thought he'd be the best son to send. He lived with them for 2 years, going to school and working, and getting in trouble with his cousins. Then, he came home and finished High School, driving to Englewood to do so. It was an opportunity for his sisters as well, as Aunt Ivy and Vera were able to complete their education as well. I don't know if they were the first in the family to graduate, but I'm guessing so, as it was difficult to send your children to town for high school in the 1930's.

While in High School, Grandpa met Grandma. I've asked and asked him and her about their dating and what they saw in each other, but they always, somehow, sidestepped those questions. I'd ask, "What did you do on dates?" And the answer I'd get was, "Oh, I don't know, the usual." What the heck was the usual in 1940, in Englewood, Kansas?

After graduation, Grandma and her mother moved to Mulvane, KS. They were already engaged, and last year, we found some old love letters that Grandpa had written his "Kat." that's the only time and place that he called her "Kat." We teased him that he just didn't want to spell out Katherine. But, Grandma said that she was often called "Kat" when she was a girl. We haven't read those letters yet, we've always set them aside to read later. We should have, so we could ask questions about them. In November 1941, Grandpa took the train, and he and Grandma got married. In their wedding picture, taken once they were back in Englewood, he's tall and thin with a head full of thin, dark, wavy hair. it had a mind of it's own and was always a mess. Later, he got a crew cut and kept it very short just to avoid those curls. He was 20 and Grandma was 19 when they got married.

Grandpa didn't go to war in WWII. He had flat feet. He told us that the Dr. for the Army asked him, "What will you do when those Germans come at you, with these flat feet?" Grandpa replied: "Run like Hell!" Instead of serving in the service, he stayed at home and farmed and welcomed a daughter, my Mom, in 1943. Another daughter, Dorothy was born in 1945, but she was stillborn. A surprise child, Sandy, was born in 1953.

Life wasn't easy. They never had much money and Grandpa leased most of his farm ground. They lived in a 4 room house, a kitchen, living room, and 2 bedrooms. Note, no bathroom. There wasn't indoor plumbing in their house until after I was born. Farming in the 40's and 50's was hard. Grandpa always had some kind of livestock--cattle, a milk cow, sheep, a couple of horses (though he was never a real good horseman) and always a dog or 2 and lots of cats.

But, Grandpa could do just about anything. He could wire electricity, he could fix anything mechanical, he built things, and while he might not have been speedy (one of Grandma's complaints), he did a job well. In the '70's when macrame became popular, he took it up. Now, Grandpa has large hands with thick fingers. His fingers are so big, that he never had a wedding ring because they didn't make them that big. So, picture these large, square fingers tieing small, intricate knots. He made plant hangers and purses and even a hammock. I still have two purses he made me. They are so out of style now, but I could never make myself throw or give them away.

Grandpa has always been there for us--for the women in his family, his wife, his daughters, and his grandchildren, both the male and female grandchildren. He's been a part of my life for 44 years, and I just can't imagine life without him in it. I so regret that my children don't remember him as I do. They don't know the man who gave rib-crushing bear hugs. They will miss so many stories, and they'll miss his gentleness and his strength. I've always known I'd have to let him go--but that was always someday, in the distant future, not now. I know I'm fortunate, to be 44 and still have 2 grandparents. But this isn't how I pictured losing him. he was just supposed to go in his sleep, quietly, still strong, still...Grandpa. Good-bye Grandpa. I love you.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Shelly for sharing. I'll be there soon. Love, Troy

agent713 said...

This is beautiful.