We buried my Grampy a week ago, said our final goodbyes, laid him to rest. All those other things we say when we know it is for the best but we will just miss the person so deeply. This is my last grandparent and I am feeling the grief so deeply.
There is something amazing about the love of a grandparent. So freely given, so utterly proud. Grampy was good at loving us well.
The thing about a funeral is the way that people from all different parts of a persons life end up using the same word to describe him. I stood next to my mother during the showing. People time after time described my Grampy as steady.
He was always there, and he was always happy to do what was needed. And his idea of what was needed was always so deeply rooted in love.
I don’t know how to talk about Grampy without talking about Grammy. I don’t know how to tell you what a great man he was without talking about how well he loved my grandmother. That love held his family together even when all of the experts suggested it was time to be splintered apart.
When it was time to bury Grammy, this time of year so many years ago, she was buried under a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses. Grampy insisted on it. They matched the yellow rose he slipped around her wrist when they were 15 and going to their first high school dance. Their pictures hang together in the town museum. He was a basketball player and she was a cheerleader and going to state is museum worthy in a small town in Indiana. When we watched Hoosiers together he would count off the gyms he too had played in. He still had his lettermans sweater.
I wasn’t only Grammy he loved well. He was simply always there when we needed him, at father daughter dances (so there would be enough dad’s to go around) and every play I have ever been in, at a few games a year when my sisters and I took our rotation in the marching band. I think he and Grammy even came to the Miss Ball State pageant when I realized I could make 75 dollars for loosing. If it was important to us, it was important to him.
And it is hard for me to remember that the things he did were extraordinary because he just did it with so little fanfare. Building us a play set in the back yard and a basketball goal for our drive way, taking us fishing, donating a piece of his heel to heal my mother’s scoliosis. He didn’t want her to walk with a limp, he’d prefer it was him.
At the funeral I was reminded that Grampy had been a Mason and a Shriner, that he had taken 150 trips back and forth to the Shriner’s hospital to make sure kids got the care they needed. I was reminded that if there was a committee at his church, he had been on it, and if there was a paper that needed signed, he very well could have been the one who signed it. Finances, choir, finding a new pastor. Grampy was more than willing to serve where he needed.
And I was reminded of the joy he took in all of this. The way he laughed with delight when he pulled out the wheel barrow for my cousin Ally, it had stickers on it, she was three. Or the stilts he made for Jill and the way he laughed when my mom took a turn in their kitchen. I remember the way he made the Christmas Ham just so and the oyster dressing he loved. I remember the candies he bought every year for Christmas since my mom was a little girl.
I think of my grandfather and I remember how he never needed to be thanked for any of this, how he did it because he wanted to. I think of my Grampy and remember how this world is changed by people doing ordinary things with great love.
How did you make money by not winning Miss Ball State?
It is a “scholarship” pageant so they give you money for participating. They aren’t all like that, but Miss Ball State was so I joined it.
All that and some things you don’t know, Kenny (Grampy) shared his love through service. He was the best of what Indiana is.
I am totally sure I don’t know the half of it.
My Dad got the idea for donating bone to fuse my spine from his dad who hated to see the doctor take bone from my shin to fuse the vertabra. My grandfather didn’t want me to have a scar on my leg – especially important in an era when girls and women wore skirts and dresses only. My grandfather was deemed too old, so Dad gave me bone from his shin.
I loved reading your tribute, Abby.