Sunday, April 7, 2013

Grandpa Jack.

I have many memories of my Grandpa Jack. He was one of the coolest guys I knew. He was also one of the loudest.

Yes, something that sets my Grandpa apart from most people was his voice. You could hear it for miles. It was loud and booming. Most of us grandchildren (especially me) were terrified of him as babies and toddlers, because it was so loud. But it was also one of the things I loved most about him. It made nearly everything he said funnier. He always answered the phone with a booming "YELLO?" that made you break into a smile when you heard it. One time, we saw him and my grandma in Church. They did not regularly attend our church, they belonged to a different one. So my mom walked over and ask "what are you doing here?" to which Gramps responded "GOING TO CHURCH!" so loudly that I burst into giggles and hysterics.

Grandpa was the kind of guy that everyone knew and liked. He had a rough exterior, but deep down he was a sweet guy with a great sense of humor. He had many friends, and built a very strong leadership with his job at Ford. He cared about his kids and his grand kids, he always wanted to make sure we had fun. On one of our many trips to Florida, I was sitting in his condo and was kind of upset because one of my cousins was teasing me. My grandpa told me I didn't have to go back outside and that I could watch TV with him. He was watching Golf, which was the very last thing I wanted to watch, but I did anyways. 10 minutes in, he changed the channel to cartoons just to make me happy.

My grandpa loved golf. He played bridge, he liked to read and he was one of the smartest men I have ever known. He would help me with my math and science homework when I was in 8th grade, and I sure wish I had him around in high school for geometry. He could calculate things and figure out equations so easily. I have visions of him sitting at his kitchen table, whistling, and doing crossword puzzles. He used to fill them out with those big, black pencils that I'm pretty sure don't even exist anymore. Oh, and he also loved desert. After every big family meal he would put his fists down and say "what's for desert?". He usually wanted the richest item available.

He also LOVED Notre Dame- and that was carried down to the rest of us. One time my brother and I were having a sleepover at their condo and Grandpa wanted us watch a movie about Knute Rockne. My brother loved it and talked with my Grandpa through the whole thing. I was bored to tears, but remember watching their interaction and being so happy that they had that love in common. Grandpa's dream was always for one of his grandchildren to go attend Notre Dame. None of us have, yet. Connor, pressure is on you, kiddo!

Whenever we would sleepover at my grandparents house, we woke up to the smell of eggs and bacon. Gramps would cook the eggs in butter and bacon grease, so they were especially delicious. He'd whistle as he cooked and sit down with us as we ate, asking us questions about school and our grades. He always wanted us to do well in school, and he was proud when we should him our report cards.

I think what I loved most about my grandpa, though, was his love for my grandma. She was my favorite person in the entire world. She passed away very suddenly, and that broke Grandpa. He was always the strong one, but suddenly without her he was weak. That's when I really realized how much he loved her. When we were going through all of her stuff, which he made us do immediately  we found all these old cards and letters he had written her. My mom has some of them, and I love to look at them and see his handwriting and to feel the love he had for her. It's one of the most beautiful things I have ever touched.

My grandpa took a slow decline after grandma died, and soon he was very sick. We put him in an assisted living and would all go visit him and try to cheer him up. The aides and nurses loved him. How could you not? I remember when we put him on hospice. His social worker was especially helpful to my siblings, cousins, and myself. Gramps passed in August 2001. Right before the September 11th terrorist attacks. I was at field hockey camp when he died. I can't remember if I really got to say goodbye. I knew that there was a chance he would die while I was gone, but I don't think I was really prepared. I was only 14, and he was the last grandparent I had left. I remember standing on the field hockey field when I found out. My coach approached me and told me that she just got the phone call. My team surrounded me- they barely even knew me, but they were there for me. They brought me s'mores and let me cry. I don't really remember my grandpa's funeral. I think I have blocked it out. I just remember feeling an overall emptiness. Life would not be the same without him.

Last September, my grandpa would have turned 100 years old. My family celebrated him. We ate all his favorite foods- fried kidneys, fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, and pie. Yes, those were his favorite foods and no, he didn't die of heart attack or anything heart related. In fact, as he was dying, his heart was the last organ to shut down. Amazing, huh? After our meal, we sat around and each shared our favorite memory of Grandpa Jack. They were all funny. Like the time he accidentally sat on someone in a movie theater because it was dark and he couldn't see. Or the time he took some of his children to a wax museum and tried to pay the wax figurine that was greeting them at the entrance.

Gramps was an awesome guy, the kind of guy I wish everyone knew. I know that this post is already super long, but I have to admit something that I've never really said before- all through high school I was pretty bitter and jealous of all my friends. I was the only one amongst us who didn't have any grandparents left, and when one of them did have a grandparent pass, I had a hard time feeling sympathetic. I know that makes me sound like a horrible person, and it's something I struggle with and still pray about. I was just...jealous I guess. My grandparents never got to see me graduate high school or cheer me on in any of my high school activities. That always made me terribly sad. But now that I'm older and a little less selfish I know that they WERE with me in spirit. I sure hope I have made them proud. I know I've made mistakes, but I love my all four of my grandparents deeply and I want them to know how much I miss them and wish that I had more time with them.

I love you, Grandpa Jack, and I miss you. Thank you for all the happy memories you have given me.


Anonymous said... Add Reply

i lost my grandpa very young, but I have vivid memories of him. Great post, thank you!
With great respect! A.

Unknown said... Add Reply

what I loved most about my grandpa, though, was his love for my grandma.

I share a similar sentiment about my grampa. Thanks for sharing!

Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Unknown said... Add Reply

I always saw my grandpa, with a smile on his face. Great post and Thanks for sharing. :)

- A fellow blogger from A to Z!

Shari said... Add Reply

This is my favorite of all your posts -- your love for him shines through every word. He certainly sounds like a wonderfully special man. No matter how much time we get with our grandparents, it never seems like enough, does it? They're still with us, though, living on in our hearts and souls. <3

BlogwatiG said... Add Reply

What a heartfelt post Megan. I'm sure your Grandpa looks over you, very proudly, from a happy place.

I never got to see any grandparents either side. So I know how you felt when you were growing. But he lives in a part of all you. You are his legacy. Take it forward.

Stay Blessed.
BlogwatiGt forward

Grace Grits and Gardening said... Add Reply

This made me a bit teary. I miss both my grandpa's. Yours sounds like so much fun. Sweet post. I'm sure he loved it!

Sharon said... Add Reply

A beautiful and heart felt post.

It is very important to record these memories for future generations.

Anonymous said... Add Reply

Nothing like a good cry several times before you eat breakfast XD

All I have to know what it's like is empathy. All my grandparents died before I was born or in the few years after. To make matters worse, despite asking more than once through life, no one wants to talk about them nearly as much as I wanna hear about them.

So...thanks for sharing your grandpa with me in a post at least. Wish someone could remember mine for me like that :D

And while my step grandmother was good enough to raise all my aunts and uncle mostly on her own we never really got along. I almost never ask anybody for anything, but one summer my son got heat rash really bad and we lost our power. I asked for my cousin's new phone number so we could stay somewhere air conditioned for a few days. I knew my grandma's house was packed at the time with my aunt's family. She told me the homeless shelter had air conditioning.

I took that very personally until I found out she apparently said similar things to a few of my more wayward cousins. One insisted I should call before it's too late, but I know my voice, I'll never be able to get out what I want to say. I'll be blubbering too badly about it. I guess it's enough to know it was nothing personal. Maybe she was going through a much harder time than I realized.

I kinda know what that failing jealousy is like though. I felt it every time I saw someone with their grandparents, having the sort of relationship one should. Heck, I even feel jealous of my own son from time to time watching him get spoiled and clearly loved and snuggled by my mom and dad when we can afford to go visit (10 and 17 hour drive away, respectively). I feel happy and content more though and very grateful for my parents being the type of grandparent I always wanted.

To this day I still don't even know if the woman I call grandmother even really cares, let alone thinks about me from time to time. I should probably write her but with her condition I don't want to upset her.

Remember all those stories, some day you might have a child, niece, nephew, second cousin, whatever have you who genuinely wants to hear them. Your stories will be the only way they'll get to know who they're missing.

Dee @ A Deecoded Life said... Add Reply

Aww this tugged at my heartstrings AND made me laugh at times too (like when he sat on someone in the cinema LOL!). Beautiful post! Looking forward to your H-Z. :)

From the A-Z neighborhood,
D is for Deecoded

Tracy Moore said... Add Reply

This post is lovely and I totally enjoyed reading it. Your grandpa sounds like an incredible guy. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

Anonymous said... Add Reply

I love that you know how much he loved your grandma- so sweet!

Grover said... Add Reply

What a beautiful post. I loved reading about Grandpa Jack - thanks for sharing some of your memories.

Vikki T said... Add Reply

Just stopping by from the A-Z Challenge list to say "Hi"

Such a lovely post honey :)

Good luck with the rest of the challenge!


Hannah said... Add Reply

What a lovely post, it brought tears to my eyes. Your Grandad sounds like a truly wonderful person. I bet he smiles down on you even now and is so proud of you and the whole family.

Deanna said... Add Reply

What wonderful memories of what was obviously a wonderful man. You were very lucky to have him for as long as you did.

Unknown said... Add Reply

Oh, you have made me remember my dearest grandpas. I never knew my grandmothers but the time I spent with my two gramps made up for it. I spent weeks on end during the summer at their homes. I'm not sure how they handled my brother and I there for the time, but it created unforgettable memories that I cherish, especially since they have long been gone. I miss and love them so much. I'm glad one day I will see them again. :)

Colin Smith said... Add Reply

What a lovely tribute to your grandfather, Megan. Both of my grandfathers were dead before I was 10. I didn't really know them all that well, so I wasn't nearly as deeply affected as you were.

I pray you'll be able to treasure these memories and pass them on for generations to come. Perhaps you should write them down? Self-publish a book of memories--just for your family, perhaps?

Anonymous said... Add Reply

What a beautiful memoir and tribute.
I don't remember either of my grandads's :(


Unknown said... Add Reply

I actually shed a tear while reading your post. It brought back such vivid memories with my gramps. The way he taught me life’s greatest truths effortlessly. I love him but at times, I failed to show it directly or indirectly because of my actions and I regretted everything I have done or haven’t done when he passed. I made a promise to myself to make up with that by giving my granma, his wife my undivided attention when she asks me of it and I provide her with the best care I can. Please continue to make heart-felt stories like these and more power to you and your blog!

Roland @