Losing my Grandpa weighs heavy on my heart. Because he's in South Dakota and I'm here in Ohio I just couldn't make the logistics of attending the funeral work. Honestly, it breaks my heart to not be around for things like that. It's hard enough missing out on all of the good stuff.. celebrations, holidays, simple gatherings... but missing funerals just hurts. I want to hug my Dad. I want to spend time with my Aunts and Uncles and sit around and listen to their childhood stories and memories of a Father who loved them with his whole heart... I want to go into the home my grandparents spent most of their lives in and look at the photos and touch the things they owned.
I've lived long distance from extended family for a long time... my whole life, in fact. When I was younger we would visit my Grandma Cookie and Grandpa Rex for a whole week each summer. It was the best. Our Dad would drop us off and my sister and I would spend the entire time doing.. well, nothing really. There wasn't much to do in a town with a population of 62 (I could be embellishing. It might have been less than that.) But that didn't matter. We were with our Gram and Gramps, and that was all we needed.
We got to know them well during these times because there we were, 2 little granddaughters, plunked into their world.. and not much changed for them except for a couple of more mouths to feed and someone for Grandma to yell at when we told her not to smoke. haha. Every day at 1 o'clock we'd sit quietly as to not interrupt her story, Young and the Restless. Grandpa would come home from work and sit in his favorite chair.... his toes poking through the holes in his socks (I swear the man didn't own a pair without holes.) propped up on a worn ottoman.
He'd grab whatever copy of western novel was close by and read quietly for hours. I'll remember how worn and well used those books were. He had a small collection and would read them over and over until the pages curled and you could barely make out the title on the spine anymore. We got to live in their comfortable routines.. watch them interact.. we learned about living a happy yet simple life. We got to know them just as they were... I treasure that.
He showed me what it looked like to truly love your wife. completely. unconditionally. That a good man could love a woman for exactly who she was and who she wanted to be.. even if she was ornery. He just adored her. He valued her as a partner.
Grandpa cried at sappy commercials. Actually, anything even slightly touching. When we teased him about it he'd just wipe the tears away and smile... he made no attempt to hide his feelings. He embraced sentiment. If ever you wrote him a letter you'd get one right back. He was a little self conscious about his spelling and grammar but he'd write anyway. Scrawled out cursive covering the pages gracefully... him showing his appreciation that you took time to reach him.
He had such a soft, kind disposition. Grandpa Rex was the kind of guy who you could tell anything to... You could sit around for hours and talk about not much of anything really... he was just calm and content to be there spending time together... listening. nodding. smiling. giving you his undivided attention in such a relaxed appreciative way.
Those little details about him are sharp in my memory... but what I'll remember the most is his smile. This man always had a smile on his face... even as he grew older and lost his teeth. He smiled with his entire being... and he lit up when his kids and grandkids were around.
God I'm going to miss him.
When one of my uncles would get going on a story from the old days he would listen intently and then whoop loudly with laughter and slap his knee. I can still hear the joy. See the twinkle in his eye. He loved his family unconditionally and enjoyed being a part of our lives. He never complained about anything or said an ill word about anyone.
When Grandpa hugged you you felt loved. He'd squeeze me with all of his might and grab my arm tightly just before I left after a visit... "I love you. You take care." You could see the sadness in his eyes as he waved goodbye from the porch.. but he'd tell you he was so happy you came. The good always outweighed the bad with Rex.
Thank you, Grandpa. Thank you for your love, your humor, your calm, easy going nature. I'll miss you terribly.. as always.. but even more sharply now that the option of visiting is gone. I know I'll see you and your smiling face again.. please give Grandma a hug for me and tell her I said hello. I know you're happy to be reunited with your partner. I'll think of you often and miss you always.