Monday, January 6, 2014

Celebrating Grandpa

Every year, after the Christmas celebrations are done and New Years is rung in, I start to reflect on a very important person in my life- my grandpa. While some choose to continue to mourn the loss and be grief stricken by the fact that he is no longer with us, I choose to celebrate his life and the memories he has left us with. Yes, I miss him and occasionally, it makes me sad, but I'm not going to allow myself to be overcome with grief every year when this time rolls around. Not only is it not healthy, it's not what he would want.

Thirteen years ago this week, he slipped away from us. I don't remember when he got his diagnosis but he was told he had stage four cancer and would only live six months to a year. This picture was taken in December of 1999. He had gotten his diagnosis at this point and the following Christmas was his last with us. I am thankful that his last year was full of life and memory making and he was a fighter and really didn't get very sick until the last couple of months (he opted out of treatment for the cancer).

There were times in my life when we lived hours from my grandparents, and a good chunk of years where we lived just minutes, maybe even seconds apart (just down the street). We spent a lot of time with grandma and grandpa and I have so many fond memories of them both. But my grandpa, he was something special. He always had a shoulder to lean on and good advice to give. He was strong and determined. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind.

One thing that impacted me most is his determination. As a kid, he lost his right arm to polio. He was right handed and had to not only learn to do everything with one arm and hand- but with his less dominant side! And he did not let that slow him down one bit. When we lived on the lake, he raked the bottom of the swimming area to keep it nice for us. He tied a rope to the end of a giant rake and would throw it out there and then use the rope to pull it back in. Seriously amazing. He did EVERYTHING.

In college, I took a creative writing class and I was going through my papers the other day and came across this poem I had written as a tribute to my grandpa:

I will never forget
what a strong, wise man
my grandpa was
or how much he loved
his family and the outdoors

There was never a task
he would turn down;
his knowledge of life
and words of advice,
I will never forget

His body is slowly
growing weaker and his
breaths becoming shorter
but this does not change
the man he is inside.

We all know that soon
 it will be his time to go
the holidays are coming
and there's no question
these will be his last.

No matter what happens,
how sick he may get
I will always remember
the strong and wise man
I have always admired
This, I will not forget

We love you grandpa! And while we miss you, we also celebrate you. The memories you gave us and the love you showed us will always be very dear to each and every one of us!

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