I had to wait to write this entry until I could complete a sentence through clear eyes…it’s still really hard.
Back in September, I had to experience something I’ve dreaded facing my entire life…a day when my Grandpa Frenchie would no longer be in the same world with me.
As a kid, he was big and strong and one of the best cinnamon roll creators of all time. He had a loud, deep laugh that would shake my entire body when I sat on his lap. As an adult, he became an inspiration. He always wanted the best for everyone else and took whatever was left over. His regrets in life weren’t that he didn’t have a lot of money or that he didn’t get to see the world, he wished that he had spent more time with his kids when they were growing up. Of course, when I asked my mom and uncle about that, they laughed and said he was the best dad a kid could ask for. You see, my grandpa wanted to provide for his family the opportunities and comforts he was never offered in his childhood and youth. He had promised my grandma that when they started a family, it would be different, no matter what he had to do.
After working hard his entire life, he decided the sedentary life of retirement wasn’t for him and he started to volunteer at the local hospital. When he was at home, he spent his time in the garden and wood shop making cradles, clocks and other “by request” pieces for his kids and grandkids. I never once saw my grandpa slow down.
When my grandma started showing signs of dementia about 6 years ago, it was hard on the entire family, but my grandpa took care of her without any complaint. It wasn’t until he himself came down with Lymphoma a year and a half ago and went through chemo treatments that he started to wear out. Reluctantly, he decided to put my grandma in a nursing home where she could be cared for properly. He tried to uphold the promise he made to her 60 years ago, but found out that even he had limits.
Back in April, we received the welcome news that my grandpa had fought off his cancer and it was in remission. He continued visiting my grandma in the nursing home one to two times a day. He worked in his garden and wood shop and visited with friends and family. Then in September, a week before his 80th birthday, his heart decided that it was spent. He had collapsed while visiting with a neighbor and we were told it was instant.
When we arrived to the funeral on a Wednesday afternoon, the church was standing room only with friends and family who knew and loved my grandpa. He was an amazing man who selflessly cared for everyone else and it was made clear that day in the crowded church.
Two weeks before his death, I discovered that I am going to be having a baby. It was a bittersweet time for me and although my child will never meet it’s amazing great-grandfather, I certainly have plenty of stories to tell that will keep his memory alive for a long, long time. I will feel complete by providing the same love and support to my family and he did to his.