Wednesday, December 05, 2007

those who are left behind

One week ago today my grandpa died. Kind of an abrupt beginning to a blog post, I suppose, but my ability to 'wax eloquent' is hindered at the moment.

One week ago today, he was on his way to dinner and had a heart attack. Not his first unfortunately.

Grandpa was 91 years old. He spent most of his life working on, owning, and running farms. Crops, cattle, chicken... that was my grandpa's life. And he loved it. He was always happiest when he was active and working. To give you an example... he had his first open heart surgery when he was 65-yrs-old. Two weeks after he was released from the hospital, he began remodeling his house. And I'm not just talking new floors and updated furniture. He knocked down walls, tore out electrical systems.... Now those of you who know me know where I get it from. :)

"Work" was never a bad word in my family. It was always seen as our chance to add something of value to the world. And it was always something we did together and for each other, which made it less like work and more like play. My childhood memories are filled with images of walking cornfields looking for weeds or bugs, helping water the trees and mow the yard (which doesn't sound like much work, but my grandparents owned an 85-acre farm), tend the garden (which was a full acre in size).

Grandpa also had a woodworking shop where he fixed and made things like tables, chairs, shelves, etc. I used to love hanging out there with him. The shop always smelled like sawdust. And in the winter, fire from the wood burning stove added warmth, while the smoke mixed with the sawdust to create an unmistakable smell that - to this day - reminds me of that little shop.

Grandpa's work kept him young, and when his body couldn't keep up with his mind anymore, the light in his eyes started to fade. It was hard to watch.

Now we've entered that bittersweet season of knowing his body is once again strong, but also knowing that it's going to be a long time before we hear his voice, or feel the warmth of his hug again.

Some moments, like now, are more bitter than sweet. I would never wish for my grandpa to have to continue living in such a weakened state. He simply wasn't happy. I would - however - wish for one more day, one more chance to look him in the eye and say 'I love you'.


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