Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dear Grandfather

Photo of my Grandfather - taken this winter
Thanks everyone for the awesome comments on my recent dating posts and the encouraging words about going outside my dating requirements and dating the Short Australian. I hope to get back to some fun dating posts soon...

But sadly this weekend wasn't really about fun and dating. It was mostly about family. My grandfather passed away 2 weeks ago. And while he was old and it wasn't a tragedy, it is still sad. He was the center of our family in many ways. I worry that we will not see each other as often. It was nice to all get together this weekend. I enjoyed catching up with my cousins. I wish I could see them more. I wish we got together for happy occasions and not just when someone dies.

Anyway, this weekend I've been reflecting a lot on family and what it means. And I've been thinking a lot about my grandparents. They were hugely important and influential to me. They lived about 2 hours from us and they visited us often and we visited them often as well. My brother and I would spend a week or so each summer with them. They had an amazing house in Ipswich, MA looking out over the ocean. Some of my best and most vivid memories of my childhood take place in that house. I can still remember how each room smelled. I can remember where all the objects (collected from their numerous travels) were placed. I loved that house. And I loved my grandparents. And they loved us - and never ever forgot to tell us just how much they loved us.

They were great and amazing people. My uncle said it best: they were great role-models. For everyone. They did so much for their community, their church, their friends, their family. They were role models to me and to many around them. They touched so many people. When I think of the kind of person that I want to be, I want to be like them. I can't actually think of better people. It was not only their love for their loved ones that was inspiring but also their love for each other. They were married 62 years. And in a world full of broken relationships and broken vows, I always think of them as role models for the type of love I hope to have some day.

Their religion was important to them and their faith in God was very very strong. Their children and grandchildren do not share that faith, but as my cousin pointed out, that was to some extent, okay with them. They would have been happy if we had embraced God and religion (and certainly expressed a certain level of disappointed to our parents for not ever bringing us to church) but they didn't turn it into an issue. They loved us for who we were even if it wasn't exactly who they wanted us to be.

They always encouraged us to do great things and to be better people. They always supported us. They loved to hear of my travels. My grandmother loved to write and encouraged me to write. My grandmother emailed me every single week until she entered the hospital a couple months before she passed away. That was really special. I attribute my passion for traveling and for writing to my grandparents. They truly inspired and supported me in so many ways.

I'm sad they are now both gone. It's been a hard weekend. There are no words that can do justice to the relationship I had with them. There are so many amazing memories that I tried to write down but seemed trivial in black and white on a computer... maybe some day I will find a way to better express my life for them. Maybe some day, I will try to re-tell the great stories they told (my grandmother was a great story-teller and my grandfather and my uncles and father were great subjects - I fear those stories will be lost and I would like to write them in my own words drawing upon what my grandmother has already written - perhaps I will include some stories in this blog). But for now I will leave you with the words I spoke at the funeral on Saturday:

Dear Grandfather, Grampy, Grumpy Grampy, GG,

You are no longer with us but you and Grammy will always be here with us. You are in the taste of fresh summer raspberries. In the smell of mint leaves and roses. You are there with the birds that fly in the early morning light, in the call of a seagull, in the smell of freshly baked cookies, in the taste of a ginger snap.

You are there in our memories of long summer nights and lobster dinners, of games of Scrabble and cards, of trips to the library and to the beach. You are there in the memories of penny candy and magic bags, of ice cream and clams and feeding the birds on your porch in Ipswich. You are in the words ‘Gee Whiz’, you are there in my father’s smile, in the sound of the ocean in a seashell, and in the magic of Christmas.

You are there with us always in memories of the past, but you also with us here in the present. You are there in the heart of your children. You are there in the accomplishments of your grandchildren. You are there in the laughter of your great grandchildren. You are there in the loving memory of your friends. You were the center of our family. Of our universe. You will live on in our memory. You are always with us.

Dear Grampy. You taught us so much. You gave us so much. Your love for all of us was undeniable. And you never failed to tell us how much you loved us. Your love for us always shined so bright. We are all so blessed to have had you in our lives. We are all better people for it. There cannot be better grandparents, parents, great-grandparents. friends or neighbors than you and Grammy. Your love was everlasting. May we carry it with us. And may we be better people for having experienced your love.

Dear Grampy. You are now with Grammy and Uncle Bill. But please know that we love you - all of you. And we will miss you. Know that you are missed. And do not miss us. But watch over us and take care of  just as you have always done and as we know you always will.

Dear Grampy. You are no longer with us,but you are always with us. And your legacy lives on within us: your friends and family who are gathered here today not to mourn your passing but to celebrate the life of a great great man.

We love you Grandfather, Grampy, Grumpy Grampy, GG. We love you.


Katie @ Domestiphobia.net said...

"They loved us for who we were even if it wasn't exactly who they wanted us to be." <-- THAT is the mark of truly wonderful people to have in your life. I am so sorry you've lost them, but I'm also happy to see how grateful you are that you had them.

Writing down their stories is a wonderful idea. And, if you want to get together with extended family more often, maybe you should take over for your grandparents and start planning the gatherings! You seem to be great at social events, and what better way to commemorate their memories by carrying on with traditions? :)

Lifebeginsat30ty said...

Even if they were old, it is really sad when we lose them, isn't it? :( I only have my one grandmother left, and I can't imagine my life without her in it. Your grandparents sound like wonderful people, I wish I could have met them.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute you have given to your grandfather! It is always difficult losing loved ones, even if they lived full happy lives. Just remember how blessed you are to have had him in your life as long as you did and cherish all those amazing memories. He sounds like he as a great man and I'm sending lots of hugs and love your way.

Julianna said...

I lost my last two grandparents this year... both in their 80's. Some times I still forget they are gone. :(

Hope you're holding up okay..


On My Soapbox said...

What a touching tribute to your grandfather. I'm sure he was very proud of you and treasured his relationship with you as much as you did with him.

Pretty Young Thing said...

There is nothing easy about losing someone you love and its sometimes hard to find the words to express how your feeling...

...but that tribute was lovely. I obviously never met you or your family but I have such a beautiful imagine of what your Grandpa was like from what you wrote. I'm sure he would be proud.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Take care of yourself and remember the good times with your grandfather. My grandparents both died before I was born, so don't forget how lucky you were to even have spent so much time and built so many wonderful memories with him. Take care :)

Research Paper said...

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Jonas said...

Inliked this post a lt! My grandma passed away a couple of months ago too, so I know the feeling. A lot of old memories resurface as you move through the mourning... Hugs!