01 June 2012



My grandfather passed away today.  It's a strange concept for me to truly embrace since he's been more or less gone for two and a half years, since he suffered a stroke in August of 2009, never recovered his communication skills, and continued to deteriorate behind the fog of dementia.  When George and I saw him last, in September, he clearly recognized that someone was visiting him who loved him, but I do not believe that he recognized us personally.  When we celebrated Christmas as a large family the year before, he had a hard time physically and mentally grasping the celebration.  This is not the man I want to remember.

Rather, Grandpa was the rock in our family.  Growing up, he was my strongest male role model, and his relationship with my grandma will always be the epitome of a marriage in my eyes.  Even 63 years into their marriage, they still held hands.  They were the example of a true love story: they met; she went away to nursing school while he couldn't get his mind off of her; as soon as she got out of nursing school, they briefly dated and then married and raised a family together; complete and total commitment was never seen as anything but the only option.  Their loyalty to one another astounds and inspires me to this day.


Grandpa wasn't a particularly funny man: his callused hands worked hard on the farm and delivered mail (yes, the old fashioned kind) to cover the bills and earn a pension.  However, some of my fondest memories of Grandpa involve a lot of laughing.  He was a master tickler, and I recall being tickled to tears as a little girl and watching my grandma playfully fend off his tickles around the breakfast table.  When you least expected it, Grandpa would drop a dry joke, putting everyone in stitches. 

early 1990s

mid- to late-1980s

Grandpa was creative and had the touch of a true craftsman.  He made all sorts of interesting gadgets to solve problems around the farm and made a wide variety of woodworking projects for pretty much everyone in the family.  And you better believe that every corner was perfectly rounded and sanded, every inch of wood evenly stained.  He was also organized and labeled his tools and parts of the barn even if he was the only person who would ever see the labels.

Grandpa rarely shared his wisdom in words, but he lived by example.  I cannot recall a single instance of Grandpa complaining or making excuses.  It's not like he didn't have a reason to do so.  For example, he used to go along on Grandma's marathon shopping trips, which lasted a minimum of 12 hours at a pop.  Even at the last stop, he was cheerful in holding the door open, going to as many departments in the store as she desired, holding her purse and previous purchases outside the changing room, and waiting in line at the counter.  We could all learn a lot from my grandpa's example.

While I am, of course, sad at Grandpa's passing, I selfishly feel relief that I no longer have to worry about whether he knows that he's sitting in a less-than-comfortable nursing home, whether he knows that he can no longer participate in a conversation, or whether he knows who does and does not come to visit.  Grandpa is in a better place now, and he will live on through the memories and lessons carried in his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

2005 - This is the photo that hangs in our stairway and will always be the way I remember my grandparents. 

Grandpa, I love you and respect you.  Peace be with you. 


aaron and misha said...

Amanda, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Your grandfather sounds like he was such an amazing guy! What a beautiful post in his honor.

Janie said...

Your piece is one to be proud of. And so was your Grandpa, my Dad and great example to so many. Your tribute is a keeper for me and will be for others. Thank you, Amanda.