Monday, January 09, 2012

Thank you, Grandpa!

Today my grandfather was buried.  He's just walking distance from my father-in-law.  Boy, there are a lot of things I could say about him and my feelings this last week.  I'm just going to keep it minimal.  If you look at a lot of the photos of him we have, you'd see that he loved his recliner.  Well, not as much as his family.  He came from a large family (being one of 10 children) and himself helped create a large family.  The first part of that was during his 22 years of military service.

I was talking with one of my aunts that I don't see that often and she told me how happy she was that I was able to spend as much time as I did with him.  I could sense some hurt in her voice.  You see, a career military man serving during several wars would not be home often and a chunk of your connection is lost when you don't spend time together.  Compound that with seeing your parents split and it's really rough for a child.  You can't fix the past, though.  What you can do is analyze what you've gained through those connections.

My grandfather lived a lot of his pre- and post-military life in the state of Idaho.  He was a pillar of his community, serving as fire chief, postmaster general, mayor and owner of the local store.  We would see him during some holidays and have longer visits during the summer when we'd stay there.  As a child, you focus on very centric things -- me, me and me.  Food, playing, sleeping and more playing would take precedence over real thoughtful conversation.  I wasn't happy with chores (which included moving irrigation pipe) and having only one TV in the house.

But lets, look at what I gained there.  I learned what it was like to do a form of physical labor, where eggs come from (by grabbing them myself), find adventure in a town trusting enough that they didn't lock doors, appreciate a town that isn't 'go, go, go' and to embrace quiet moments with family.  I never really understood grandpa's love for Westerns and military films and obsession with the news.  But, I would adopt the latter myself.

I lost a grandfather while in high school.  I lost another one after high school (when I returned from Reno.)  But, you remember when I related loss with the quality of your connection.  I can't say that I spent 5% of the time with either of my other grandfathers and the weight of this loss is that much stronger.  Knowing that his time was coming to a close, my first project after ending Talking 80s Music was to spend some quality time with grandpa and record his life story for myself as well as the rest of the family.  The me-focused child needed to fill in the gaps and use my interview skills for something greater.  I can say that I am better equipped to deal with his passing by doing it.  I think we said an unspoken long-farewell then.

His recliner isn't empty.  It's just moved closer to the Lord.  I could miss what I didn't have with him but I won't.  I will cherish the time he spent with me and share what I can with the family.  Spend time with your family, your elders.  Harry Chapin's song "Cats In The Cradle" plays in my head this week.  We don't have to be that kid!  We don't have to be that adult!  Connect!  Don't mourn the living!  The time is now!

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