Irony is something else… just yesterday I wrote of daydreaming by the shores of Burt Lake and actually "publicly announcing” that we’re expecting our first child. Then the same day, later that evening, my dear Grandfather passed on. He was 95 years old, just. Apparently it was peaceful and I have no doubt that he had love surrounding him when he went. Everyone in his home told me every time I was there that Walter was one of their favorites. I have no reason not to believe them, they’re caring, big-hearted people who have an extremely difficult job, and enjoy it. I believe he was one of them that made it easier for them to.
My grandpa, Papa as we called him when we were kids, wasn’t really the type that you crawled up into his lap and fell asleep. But he was definitely someone you knew cared deeply for you. I think nearly every time we were at their house he’d get on the floor with us and build a car wash out of wood blocks for Danny’s matchbox cars to go through. He could ALWAYS pull a quarter out of your ear, no matter how many times you asked or even if you caught him off guard, we were none the wiser. I remember him being a busy man, I so wanted to help him tend to his roses that he took such good care of, but instead he found helicopter leaf after helicopter leaf for me to through into the air from the never ending supply in the back yard.
I’m finding this hard to write now - I truly miss him. He had that same gentle hand that Uncle Mike had, with just a touch, everything was alright. I knew two different Grandpa’s, three really. The one I mentioned, when I was a kid. Then when he and Grandma moved to Florida we were lucky enough to visit quite often. Those days I remember being amazed that his nightly walk was so important, and even more amazed that watching golf on TV could be so fascinating. And in those days when they would come visit here and I gave up my bed for him not once was a special note to me missing after they’d gone, thanking me for something I’d gladly done.
Then, when we FINALLY convinced him to leave “sunny Florida”, as he so affectionately called it, and move back to Michigan I knew another man. One that was proud and grateful all at once. You could see he did not like giving up his independence, but was also glad for the help. He did both with dignity, something I hope I can remember well enough to carry with me for the rest of my life. We had a lot of fun while he was living at mom and dads. He was always happy to see you when you stopped in and did his best with small talk. He had the best one liners, even the last visit Barry and I had with him on our own. I can’t repeat it; it’s no good without his delivery, but wow. He was full of them. Still to this day one of my favorites was when we were all gathered to celebrate his birthday (after he’d been with my parents for a summer, long enough to have eaten 6 meals a week straight from the grill) and not being one to lavish in gifts and celebrations was shown his birthday cake… “Bill probably grilled it.” Oh man, if you could have seen his face. Just a week and a half ago we had another wonderful celebration for his 95th birthday that I think he enjoyed quite a bit.
He didn’t change much after he moved into the home. He quickly won the hearts of the employees there (who happened to be mostly female) and gained a friend in each of them.
I’m thankful that we were able to tell him about our incredible journey to come and how thrilled he was to hear that we’re expecting not one, but two babies; I’ll just have to imagine what he looks like holding them.
I love him very much and he will be missed greatly.