Two weeks ago today (June 22) my grandpa died. We'll go back a week or so to Friday, the last day I saw him. His birthday was that Saturday and Father's Day would be on Sunday. I went to the nursing home, much like any other week, but our aunt had come in for the said events. In the many weeks previous, the decline in his health was apparent and visits became harder and harder due to the fact that he didn't and practically couldn't talk. That night after the visit, the one in which my aunt continually talked to him and mentioned she was back to see him and so on, I realized things were not good and I will admit to crying more than I'd even like to remember.
The week continued on. Wednesday night, like every night this summer, I went down to visit my grandma. She said his vital signs were good and everything. The hospice lady had come that day and made sure they started taking better care of him because it seems nursing homes do not do the greatest job (especially when it comes to the ones that are near death from what I've seen). Finally, after getting the attention he needed so much, that was it. The call came later that evening and my grandma tried to reach my dad with the news, but you see Wednesday is basketball night so he's hard to find. I could tell that it was the call we were all too sure was going to come, but never hoped it would. No matter how much preparing you do for that call, it will always come as a shock. When my dad told me, I didn't cry. The Beebe side of the family would never show emotion. My grandpa was born during WWI, and as you can imagine, experienced many rough times throughout his life. The Depression and fighting in WWII and many other events I'm probably not even aware of.
Somehow after 2 previous deaths I expereinced, I guess I didn't think I'd take this one as hard as I did (and wouldn't continue to think and ponder over). Taking the time to look back, I see so much of myself in him. One of the most apparent traits that we share, is the ability to eat more than the rest of our family at dinner yet look like we haven't been fed properly. He worked very hard throughout his life, and though this summer would not prove it, when I am working at something I try my best. When it comes to money, I definitely take after him. Some might call it cheap, but I think he'd prefer it as sensible. Only spending on what you need and not just wasting it on any and every thing imaginable. My dad grew up living in a family that spent money so carefully you'd think they didn't have any, when the truth is they had more than I even know of. My grandpa also loved to read, something that in more recent years I've come to enjoy also. I think its from my grandpa that our love for each other is shown. Its something our family never says or really shows with hugs and all that. These little things that would mean absolutely nothing to most, are the things that have come to symbolize the love we cannot (do not) express for one another.
Though my grandpa did not want a funeral service, my grandma insisted on one (though she had never really gone to anyone's- thats a whole different story). Funerals are more for the living than the dead, and I know personally that it is the time when I really think about the person and if I haven't yet, the loss is finally realized in my mind. Our immediate family went out to the cemetary (my grandpa and granda both have decided they want to be cremated... so I had no idea what to expect from such things). It was just short and then off to the church where we stood for what seemed an eternity while a line all the way out the door continued to proceed in. Over 100 people at an 88 year old man's funeral. The thought of that is more than I can even take in. I know, it doesn't matter how many people come, but it's nice to see him remembered so well. It was a very nice service, but the most emotional for me was when a few family/friends came up and said a (not so)few words about him. My grandpa was a painter and the church needed repainting. So he volunteered to help with many others. They worked all day and would continually ask him "Verne, what do you think?" Finally, one last time they asked what he thought, and his response "Let's let God be the judge of that." Lynn, our retired pastor's wife, read what Denny had wrote since his battle with cancer kept him from being able to attend. It was made known to us that we weren't the only ones who really wanted him there. Denny talked about painters and things of that sort. Then he shared a story about a lunch he and my grandpa shared after another's funeral. Denny, by choice, went and sat with him in hopes of a good conversation. "You really give them a nice send-off." "Well wouldn't you do the same?" "Yes, I guess I would and I hope you are around to send me off." To this very day that bring me to tears. Lynn struggled to say it, and her reaction alone could have made me cry, but little did I know the words to come would be what they were. I thought that was the going to be the hardest part to handle, let's just say I was very wrong. As the service came to a close, a few Legion memembers got up and said a few words. Then one gave the flag to my grandma and said "On behalf of the Government of the United States of America and the American Legion Auxilary I present you with this flag ankljasf" My grandma then stood up and turned around and said "I want you to have this in rememberance of your grandfather" and gave it to my brother. Let's just say the non-emotional father I have broke into tears during this time. Then that was it.
In the days since, I've spent many hours with my grandma. We had what she called a "drinking party" with our 7-ups, pulled weeds, wrote thank you notes (over 150 cards were sent to her), and just sat and watched tv together. "He was an easy guy to live with. You don't find too many like that anymore." For the first time ever she admitted "I miss him, I mean I miss him a lot but I've been living here on my own for 6 months now. It was for the best since he was suffering." (just quotes I wanted to remember). Oh yeah, and he won the best beard award for some centennial thing in Minden. that made me laugh.
And the poem inside called The Clock of Life:
The Clock of life is wound but once
And no man hath the power,
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own;
Live, love, toil with a will
Place no faith in tomorrow, for
The clock may then be still.
Even if we never said it... I Love you Grandpa and miss you more than you probably know. Even if its for the best, its hard to let go.
:So what would you think fo me now. So lucky, so stong, so proud? I never said thank you for that, now I'll never have a chance. May angels lead you in: