The phone call I knew was coming sooner then I'd like came last night. My 94 year old grandfather passed away. I posted a Diary here a few weeks ago when he had what we though at first was a heart attack, but later learned was congestive heart failure.
The reason I asked for advice in that Diary was because two of his children, as they had for years, wanted to put him in a nursing home. My mother, well over her dead body. He made it home to the house he has lived in since 1952.
I like to think, no I know the end came on his own terms.
When he got home from the hospital two weeks ago my parents offered to have him move in with them, which they had offered many times in the past. They have a huge house, heck even a elevator so he wouldn't have to worry about getting around all the large and winding staircases.
He would have none of that. He was going to stay in his own house. My mother basically moved in with him to help with rehab. Yesterday he told her to get out of his house and go do something for herself. He'd be fine for a few hours. She reluctantly agreed.
When she returned he had passed away .....
In Obama's speech in Tuscon this week he ended with:
Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope." On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles."
If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.
I actually heard some liberals, yes liberals on MSNBC say they didn't think this was an appropriate thing to say. Maybe it is cause I don't have any children. Maybe I am just "cheesy" but if there is a heaven, and right now I am sure hoping there is, I like to think my grandfather is just making the turn at nine.
A smile on his face from ear to ear because he can walk carrying his own golf bag. His eyesight that was taken from him in the early 90s is back and he doesn't see the world in shadows anymore. That his hearing, taken from him at about the time as his sight has returned. He can hear the birds singing in the trees and the sound of his persimmon driver compressing a golf ball 300 yards down the middle of the fairway.
Heck it brings me even more solace to think that maybe he found Christina and he took her along for her first round of golf. Just like he did with me at about her age. In fact maybe the single most important thing that ever happened in my life was him teaching me to play golf (but that is another story).
Or maybe best of all he can see my grandmother and all his old friends. A couple years ago he just one day stopped going to church a few times a week. When my mother asked why he said it was depressing. He didn't know anybody. All this friends were dead. I've always though I'd like to live to be 100. But my grandfather outlived his wife and almost all this friends by a decade plus. I think he had done all the "living" he wanted to do.
The last picture I have of him is from mid-December of last year, at his 94th birthday party.
Lets end with some music. Since my family is about as Scottish as you can get without actually living in Scotland, it would be easy to end with some bagpipes. I know there is be a lone player standing on a hill overlooking the cemetery at his funeral Tuesday. However, I've have just always found Amazing Grace on pipes a little depressing.
So how about the song they used at the opening to the Memorial service this week in Tuscon. Fanfare for a Common Man. It has been a favorite of mine, in happy or sad times, since I heard it open the Olympics in LA in 1984.
Rest in peace, you will not be forgotten .......
Below is a Diary I wrote on his 94th birthday a few weeks ago. I am not usually a guy to repost what I have already written here, but thought it might work in this instance.
He lived a wonderful and full life. For those that care I want to share just a little of it with you. It will make me feel better to know that just one or two eyes read it and paused for a few seconds to think a positive thought for him. Peace!
I just don't know where to start to explain how cool he is. Did I mention he is 94 years young? Maybe my favorite story about him is this. As a kid, when my mother (his daughter) was pregnant with me he could often be seen placing headphones on her ever expanding belly. Mom was not a fan I hear. It would seem I needed, even as a fetus, to hear Jack Buck call Cardinals baseball games.
He explains to this very day that the thought his first grandson wouldn't be a Cardinals fan just wasn't acceptable. 41 years later, well he was very successful. Here he is with my grandmother in July of '69 celebrating my birth.
I am blessed, he is blessed with a mind as nimble as it as ever been. We talk for hours and hours about the Cardinals to this very day.
The first time he ever really left his small rural town, the town my family still lives in and has since 1860's, was to fight the Nazis.
I have no idea what he did during WWII. When asked he just says his government paid for him to "walk around Europe." When he got back home he got a job working at a Snap-on plant. Entry level. He'd work there for 35 years until he eventually ran the place. Tool and die maker. Now I don't know, I need like a 10 page PDF to hang a picture, but I hear he made the best tools known to man. He was very proud of what he did for a living.
Oh did I mention he liked to ride motorcycles really fast.
Grandmother, who he was married to for 57 years before she passed away, put a stop to that. He never went to college but put his three children through college.
In his free time he liked to play golf and build stuff. When as a kid in the 70s I wanted Star Wars stuff he made me wooden toys. I didn't appreciate it at the time but I have them all to this day and it is like the coolest stuff you've ever seen. Something that could only be made with two skilled hands and a lot of love.
Bored in retirement he built each of his nine grandchildren a grandfather clock. Chopped down the tree, planed it (is that the right word?) and went to work. Still bored when he was done he started with his oldest grandchild (that would be me) and started making us a second one. Several of his grandchildren have more then one :).
Here he is with my grandmother and all this grandchildren, Christmas day 1990.
And yes that clock on the mantel, he made that as well.
When my parents and I take him out for dinner tonight, just for a Whopper at Burger King cause that is what he wants, I'm going to hug him extra hard!