Nine years ago we said goodbye to you. You didn’t get to say goodbye to us though, beacuse you went to Heaven in your sleep that night.
I’ll never forget the morning you left us. I heard the phone ring. It was early. Too early for a high school kid to care about reaching for the phone. Tellitubbies was on TV. Devin or Cierra must have slept with the TV on that night. I was on the couch, but I heard my mom cry from the bedroom.
Something is wrong.
I jumped up.
I heard her coming down the hall.
“Ashley,” my mom said with tears down her face. Her voice was shaky and it scared me. I’ll never forget the way she said my name that morning.
This was the first time I’d truly remember seeing my mom cry. She is such a strong woman and holds in her emotions. But she wasn’t hiding her emotions this morning. What is happening?
“Ashley – help me get the kids around. Something is wrong with Grandpa…” she stopped. “They think he is gone.”
Gone? Like gone fishing? Or what does she mean? I was still waking up. Then I realized she meant gone, forever.
The next few hours were a blur. I can’t remember what happened. I think we went to my grandparents house, but I am not sure. I remember sitting in the library room. I couldn’t go into my grandparent’s bedroom. I know Grandpa Larry wasn’t in there, but the thought of a dead person’s body in the room really freaked me out. I remember sitting there in silence. I don’t remember crying, but I was trying to piece everything together. Trying to remember the last time I saw him. Trying to remember the last thing he said to me.
Did I say I love you?
Did I tell him how much he meant to me?
Did I tell him that I loved going to breakfast with him?
Did I remind him that even though I acted like I hated it when he put his aftershave on my face, I really loved it because I smelt him the rest of the day?
Did I say something mean?
I was an awful teenager. I was confused about life and depressed. I locked myself in my room and cried a lot. I was trying to make sense of the world and pushed my family away. What did I say? Oh God, please tell me what I said…
And then I remembered. The last time I saw him was when I got my new glasses. We were in the kitchen at my grandparents house. He was in his scooter – because he had his knee amputated after his diabetes took in on his legs. He joked and called me four-eyes. And then he smiled and said I looked beautiful. But what did I say? I can’t remember….I hope I said thank you. And I love you.
It didn’t hit me until the funeral started. I saw my mom crying. And my aunts and uncles. Strangers were crying too.
Finally, everyone gave us hugs and send us their love / sympathy / support. They closed the doors and it was just the children and grandchildren.
My Grandma Iris walked up to me and hugged me. I was starring at him in the casket. His face had make-up on. I remember that. She grabbed my hand, “He always loved you so much, Ashley. You always made him laugh.”
I thought about the time I went running around the house with a tube sock on my face because he wanted sour kraut and I thought it smelled AWFUL. He thought that was the funniest thing ever….
Tears are streaming down my face as I reflected this moment. Because that is when I lost it. That is when it sank in. That is when I remember you truly feeling you were gone. I wanted to jump into your casket and shake you. Make you wake up. Make you go fishing with me. Make you take me out to breakfast. Make you yell at me to turn the Chicago Cubs game back on — even when I KNOW you were sleeping when I changed the channel. Wake up. Come back….come back….
Grandpa, there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of you. Something always reminds me of you on a daily basis. I feel your messages come through to me, always. Just this past Sunday, I saw a little girl at breakfast with her grandpa and grandma. Her grandpa helped put on her jacket and she looked up and smiled right at me. I thought of you instantly. I was that little girl once…
I had your picture in my wedding bouqet. Justin surpised me with a beautiful locket that had a picture of you and Grandma in it. I consider that the most wonderful and beautiful gift I’ll ever recieve from Justin, right next to our future children.
I’m dedicated my half marathon race to you this May. In fact, through my supportive friends and family members – I have raised $580 in your name for the American Heart Association. This weekend, mom and I are running a race. It’s her first one!! I know you’ll be proud and smiling down on us. You left us so close to mom’s birthday, so its always a hard time of year for her. So send her some extra love and sunshine, will ya?
So I’ll close this blog with letting you know I am eating a grapefruit. Like you used to do. And I’ll pray the Cubs make it to the World Series this year. But if not, I’ll still eat oranges, pay Justin for back rubs, enjoy my Sunday breakfasts, and take a few fishing trips this summer for you.
We miss you Grandpa. Save a spot for me in Heaven – we’ll go fishing when I get there. I might even give you a back rub… if you pay me enough – inflation has increased and a dollar just isn’t a dollar anymore. I’m joking. I miss you.