My Grandfather passed away today. I know, not the most uplifting news of the decade, but nevertheless, it is a fact of this moment in time. I really don’t know what I am feeling which is quite odd I guess. I usually have some sort of emotional catalyst when I write, but today perhaps it is the bombardment of all sorts of emotion that is driving my spirit. No matter how you classify what it is going on inside of me right now, the cloud of sadness can not be ignored. Sometimes when people die, you are so glad that their suffering is finally over, and that God chose to end it all. Since I didn’t have a glimpse into my Grandpa’s mind in his final days, I can’t be for sure what he was thinking before he left. Whatever the situation, the whole thing was unexpected to us on the outside, and quite a shock to us all.
I was really close to my Grandfather growing up. I admired him to no end. He is one of the main inspirations in my push for success, and my desire to live life to the fullest possible means.
Whenever I think of my Grandpa, there is one story that always comes to the forefront of my mind. When I was about 12 or 13 years old, skateboarding was my passion in life. It was rare to catch me without my ‘Tony Hawk’ skater haircut and a skateboard under my arm. My Grandpa and Grandma lived in a retirement mobile home park at the time not too far from our house in Colorado Springs. During the summers, I would go over and visit a lot. Sometimes I would even spend the night over there just to hang out with them more. One time while I was staying with them, I went out for a skate, and my Grandpa yelled at me and asked me if he could come with. Mmmmm, “OK” I said, wondering how this was going to work out, or what he was thinking. “Lets go to the top of that hill over there and I’ll ride down” he tells me. Not thinking that was a great idea for an old man to do without ever being on a skateboard before, I told him that we’d better start on something flat if he wanted to learn. “Nope,” he said, “Let’s go to the top of the hill!” So picture this scene, my Grandpa in his slippers on a skateboard cruising down hill, his young grandson running down the hill next to him in case he falls, and a ton of old people on their porches looking at this and wondering what he had put in his coffee that morning! He yelled like a kid, almost fell off at the bottom, and goes “lets do it again!” I had a tough time getting my skateboard back from him, but when my Grandmother can out of the house screaming full-volume, he let go. We were both in the doghouse that night! This day I think my Grandpa really gained my total respect. He was invincible.
Later in life, he told me stories of crashing airplanes into cornfields, and ‘surfing’ motorcycles while standing on the seat with no hands traveling at 50 mph. He was a true lover of adventure, and I was always intrigued by his youthful and sharp spirit.
I always thought he would outlive us all.
My Grandpa cared more for others than he ever cared for himself. He took amazing care of my Grandmother while she was alive. He served his new wife Nancy with a never ending passion. He loved my family more than life itself. My own Dad was a son that he loved and respected, and always wanted the best for. He cried at my college graduation out of sheer joy. He gave to his church, his volunteer causes, and to his friends who knew him best. I once had a penny drive for a trip I was going on, and my Grandfather single handedly raised more than our whole youth group in pennies! This was the type of man he was. Never in one place, always on the move, and always serving.
One of the last one-on-one conversations I had with him was at Christmas. We had lunch and told stories about life. He told me with a tear in his eye how Nancy gave her heart to God shortly after they met. I told him Julie did the same shortly after we met. Were we so dissimilar? He was telling me how hard it was to get old, and not be able to remember things like he used to. He was still moving, but his body couldn’t keep up anymore. He was really frustrated about it all. I guess in light of this, perhaps his aging body just forced his hand and it was not worth the frustration anymore. You hear of fighters, but at what cost? My Grandpa is not the sort of man who would have wanted to get old in hope of breaking some record as the oldest living human. He would have wanted it all to stay as it was when he was young. Why else would you hop on a skateboard in your late 60’s?
I can only imagine the immense frustration that flipping the tables on a man like this would create. A man who did nothing but serve was now being waited on. A man who cared for others was being cared for. An active man’s body was now holding him captive to weakness and inactivity. Yes, living and breathing were not a struggle, but I can only imagine the mental anguish in knowing that this life would never again be what you wanted it to be.
I don’t think he left because he was frustrated with all of us. I think he left because he had a body that no longer allowed him the physical ability he needed to ‘live’ his life. If my Grandpa could not serve, move, and experience life, it was just not worth living. Simple as that.
I wish I would have I had the opportunity to tell him how much he meant to me. How his drive and passion in life has pushed me to be a better person. I wish I could have told him so many more things.
I love you Grandpa, and you will be missed.