Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Remembering Grandpa


I received the news yesterday that my great-grandfather passed away, so naturally I've been thinking of him quite a bit. It's more good news than bad, as he was in his nineties and had been suffering failing health for quite some time. I've smiled more than cried as I've looked back on his memory and I feel a lot of peace knowing that I was able to say "Goodbye" (I've visited him every time I went home since I moved away knowing it could be the last time I saw him).

He's always been one of the coolest men on the planet in my book and I'd like to take a minute to tell you why.

He wasn't a man of many words in the late years that I knew him, but the words I remember were mostly jokes. I wasn't born until he was already an old man, his hands weathered from a lifetime of working with them to provide for his family and every time we visited, we drove past the limestone house he built with them. For as long as his health and mobility could allow it, he drove the four miles into town twice a day to play dominos with a few other old men in the back of the bar on the main drag. In the summer, he sat the shade of the woods and whittled (and gave me an extra pocket knife so I could join him as often as I cared to) and often made small tops out of wooden spools thread used to come on. He also fished every day he was able, and one of the highlights of my childhood was the time he took me fishing with him when I was about 8 years old and I caught one myself!

He wore overalls everyday of his life, and almost always when the occasion called for dress attire he chose dress overalls. I laughed when I called my great-aunt and she told me she was out to go pick up a new pair of them to bury him in. I think that's the way he'd want it. This picture is from when he was Grand Marshall of the town parade one summer after I moved to Jersey--dress overalls.

He had a little rat terrier called Spot as a companion in the later years before he went into a nursing home and though I never saw him actually smoke a cigar, I rarely remember walking into his place without seeing one in his hand.

I was very blessed in the last few times I saw him. He suffered from dementia but he always knew who I was when I came. I was prepared for him not to, so when his eyes lit up with recognition and he said, "Well looky there!" as I walked in the room when I went to see him after my mission, my own eyes filled with tears of gratitude. His eyes also lit up when I saw him the last time. Though a moment later when he saw my 7 months pregnant belly he gasped and said in a low voice, "You've been having some bad fun!"

That's Grandpa.

10 comments:

riley_kristenm said...

Ashley, I am so sorry to hear that your grandpa passed away. But I am glad that you have so many fond memories of him and that you are remembering him for the great man that he was! Lots of love,
Kristen

Jacqueline said...

What a sweet tribute to a life well lived and loved.

Grant said...

Not sure how anyone can look at the grandpa in this picture. This is a classic picture of Ashley pre-weightloss. Same pretty girl, but covered in a layer of fat we haven't seen in real life.

Grant said...

And what's that on your wrist? Same nasty watch I finally persuaded you to take off when we were dating. It was about as appropriate as overalls at church. :)

Ashley said...

No, it's not a very flattering picture of the Ashoflower, but it's the best one I have of Grandpa.

And yes, I do look better without that nasty watch on my wrist. :)

Grant said...

I could use digital photo editing skills to take off 60 pounds or so if you wanted. :)

Amanda said...

What a great post Ashley! I have some of the very same memories of my own grandfather and it's taking everything I have not to burst out in tears sitting here at work. I'm sorry to hear of his passing. He certainly had a lot of great years!

Seth said...

Nice tribute to what sounds like a very great man.

Danielle said...

Grant, you need to be walloped upside the head. Ashley is beautiful no matter what. But I was checking out Grandpa's church overalls, and remembering how the last pair of overalls I wore were maternity overalls and that they gave me a perma-wedgie.

This is a wonderful post though. I'm glad to get to know your grandfather better, and I'm sorry to hear of his passing. But it did make me LOL that he said "You've been having some bad fun!" Grandpas are the best, aren't they? There's so much to learn from those that have a little more "experience" under their belts, that it's sad when they pass on.

Debbie said...

I am sorry to hear about your loss, but this is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it.