Thursday, June 2, 2011


Tomorrow Jaren and I are driving to Washington to go to my Grandpa's funeral.  I feel like my thoughts and feelings are all over the place.  Losing my Grandma a year ago was incredibly hard.  Not that I ever worry about where she is, because she's better off than me, that's for sure.  But I just miss her.  And it was sad for what my Dad lost and what my Grandpa lost.

When I was 10 my Grandpa (my Mom's Dad) passed away very suddenly to cancer.  We found out one day and a few weeks later he was gone.  I don't remember a lot about him.  I was young, and a girl and he loved to fly fish and took my brother, Nathan out all the time.  I don't feel like I ever got to know him - but most of those things are supposed to come later.  Right?  What kind of a conversation could he have had with a 10 year old little girl?  I'll tell you what, especially from me, "I really like Bobby, but he likes Vanessa and I just can't figure it out because we are MADE for each other!!"

When I was 9 my Grandpa (Dad's Dad) had a severe stroke.  It left him having to learn how to eat, drive, talk and do just about everything again.  Even though I don't feel like I really got to know him (more than his mental capacity could allow) either I am so grateful he didn't die then.  Because the memories I have of growing up and going to their house are wonderful.  He was always so excited to see me and ALWAYS remembered me.  Even when I went away to college or came back huge (dramatically different than any pictures) pregnant.  He had to have at least 2 hugs and made me kiss each cheek :)  I would sit and listen to him tell me about "the boys"  and "the cows"  and anything else that was going on with the farm.  For the most part I always knew what he was talking about.  He would pull out old photo albums and yearbooks from when he was in high school and growing up.  I would sigh and realize I was going to be there for a while (I had seen and heard the stories countless times), but always would enjoy every second of it.  It made him incredibly happy to be able to talk about the things he knew and experienced.  It was so important for everyone to understand "I was smart" and he would point to his head.  He would say, "I had all the ladies, but one, only one... mama" (which was my grandma).  She would roll her eyes, smile and say, "Oh, Garn."

His passing isn't necessarily sad for me.  It was time, he was 89.  He didn't have the best quality of life and my Grandma was no longer here.  All I could think about was how he could be whole again and be with my Grandma.  And his Mom, who died when he was 8 months old.  I am going to miss him, his company, his stories, his smile, and how he always always told me he loved me.  "Oh, I love you" as dramatically has he could say it.  I felt special in a sea of over 50 grandchildren, he had to have my picture up so he could see it while he was sitting in his chair.  He would point to it and say, "that's my girl"  I know all of us granddaughters were "his girls"  but it still made me feel special. 

I still really miss my Grandma.  It wasn't until I graduated from High School and started working on the farm regularly and would go to her house for lunches and naps that I feel I really built my relationship with her.  And she always was so interested in my life.  So concerned with who I was dating, were they nice?  She was excited to find out that one of her best friends was related to Jaren (his Grandma's sister).  And she could find out everything she needed to know about the family.  And it was all good, so she told me I could marry him :)

Thinking about them, about everything I know and the time I spent with them I am left feeling incredibly grateful for the time I was able to spend with them.  That I was able to know such wonderful people.  That I grew up in the same town, saw them every Sunday and during the week.  Grandma came to some of my games and performances.  I know not everyone get's to grow up around their Grandparents, but I lived a few miles from one set and 30 minutes from my Grandma.  I am grateful for my family, who sacrifice so much without being expected to.  My Dad and Uncle who rotated every other night for the last year staying with my Grandpa, helping him with everything he couldn't do so he could stay in his home.  Where he was happiest and most familiar.  April 14th last year my Grandma went into the nursing home and passed away just over a month later.  April 14th this year my Grandpa when into the same nursing home and passed away within 4 days of my Grandma's 1 year date of passing. 

I'm so looking forward to this weekend and learning more about each of them through my Aunts and Uncles.  I cherish the stories.

I hope that I can reach into my 80's and look back at my life and legacy like they did.  With a full, happy life.  It's hard to say goodbye now, but I know I'll see them again and it's such a great comfort to know that they will be there to greet me when it's my time.

As soon as I get my external hard drive to work on this computer I'll have some pictures of my Grandma, too.

1 comment:

Victoria Gilbert said...

I love this post Whit. You just said it all perfectly... Grandpa always made me feel special too. He will always and forever be my Grandpa...really, the only one I've ever known, and I am grateful to have known him and Grandma, and for all the time I was able to spend with them. Your picture of you and Grandpa on your wedding day is beautiful... so sweet. Have a wonderful time this weekend with the family. I really really wish I could be there with everyone to celebrate Grandpa's life! Love you :)