Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Goodbye Card

It's been a year since my Grandpa died.

The last time I saw him sitting up, before the cancer completely took over his brain, I had told him I was expecting again and he said to me "Good luck with your baby, I hope you have a big fat girl."

I did.  And I think he knows it.  Ironically, she was born on Christmas Eve, which all my life growing up was one day of the year we always went to Grandpa's house.

Tonight I have done a lot of reminiscing.  The awesome man he was and the horrible way he died.  I've thought a lot about how hard it is to wait for someone you love to die... and I feel like my family has had to do it way too much in the last 5 years.  First Uncle Dale in 2010, just a couple of weeks after we got Rachel's diagnosis... then we waited for her to die for four long months... then my Papa in the fall of 2014 and Grandpa just 6 months later, with their cancer diagnoses overlapping.  It's been overload watching so many people we love have their bodies shut down a little at a time, with so much physical pain.

My Grandpa was given much longer than he actually made it... which with how bad he suffered, I wouldn't have wished another day on him.  For us though, that day was dreaded and is still so, so sad to think about.  I had bought him a card, but seriously struggled with knowing which kind of card to buy - a 'get well' when he was just told he won't?  A 'sympathy' when he wasn't dead yet?  I was so overwhelmed, I was in tears in Hannaford trying to pick it.  It sat on my counter for weeks and weeks because I knew I wanted to write in it, but couldn't get myself to do it... I wasn't ready to say goodbye.

Then the call came.  My mom telling me I needed to come and see him and say goodbye.  I sat down to write, unsure if it was too late to share my heart with him.  I went over and sat next to the hospital bed in his living room... positioned in the same place Uncle Dale's hospital bed was when he died a few years earlier in that same room.  He welcomed me with "Hi Beautiful" my entire life, but this day, he looked at me when I walked in and said "Goodbye Baby."

I am so glad I got to tell him that I love him and was going to miss him because he never got to read my card.  I didn't say all the things I had written, but I cried with him and for him and held his hand and kissed his face and told him I would miss him so much.  He was so ready for the pain to stop... but had cancer not invaded his body, he would have stayed forever happily on this earth because he loved life.

So anyway, things got very difficult with family in the days following his death and I ended up taking the card home with me the next day after he was gone.  He was never going to see it and I didn't want it to be thrown away.  It's sat in my bill drawer since where I see it every time I open the desk.  I wanted to share it, realizing that only family will know what some of this stuff means, but just to explain a couple of things - my Grandpa dressed as Santa every year at the Elk's club for their Christmas party where they gave kids presents.  We knew he was Santa but my mom swore she'd kill us if we told the other kids.  He LOVED kids and kids LOVED him.  Every one of them.  And chocolate... he had a big stash of chocolate in his house and although he loved it for himself, he would let us take the last piece if we wanted it.  He said his Dr told him it was good for him to eat dark chocolate and then we'd joke about how they didn't mean quite so much.  He made sure my kids got real sugared up before returning home.  He also delivered pizza for years and when we were kids we would call up and order pizza and say "Can my Grandpa deliver it?"  And they'd say "Who is that, Frankie?"  Yep - the oldest pizza guy and he still drove the fastest....  And the last line, he often called me "kid"....

So, Grandpa... this card is for you...

I bought this card weeks ago, months ago maybe.  And it's sat here waiting for me to find words to write to somehow express what my heart wants to say to you.  And I can't find the words.  There aren't any adequate.  And I don't even know if you will be able to read this anyhow.  All I know is that you have been more to me than a "Thank you" would cover.  But, thank you for your songs, your laughter, your jokes, your chocolate.  Thank you for always being happy for me when I'm having another baby.  Thank you for being at birthdays and stopping in to say hi to me on random days when I needed a smile more than you knew.  Thank you for calling me beautiful and for giving me your gift of writing.  Thank you for your service to our country and for sharing some of your experiences with me.  Thank you for yummy meatballs and pizza deliveries.  Thank you for dressing up in a red suit to make kids smile.  If there ever was an old guy that kids love - it's you... and this Kid is going to miss you like crazy.
I love you,

I wish I would have gotten it there sooner - that maybe he could have read it or had it read to him.  But I think he knew all of these things... I hope.  I wish I could see him hold Eden.  I just know he would have been thrilled that I had that 'big fat girl' after all.  He was so sad for me losing Rachel and after he lost Dale to cancer, it was like we shared a new bond.  He was so supportive and never afraid to talk about her with me.

A couple of weeks ago, walking into church, Sam took my hand and asked if I remembered Bumpy's funeral. (that's what the kids call him)  It was rainy and I think it reminded him of that day.  I said yes and Sam responded "But now there are more baby funerals than there are adult funerals."  He had me in tears as I walked through the doors that morning.  My kids know more reality than I ever wanted to know myself.  Babies die.  A lot.  

The day of Grandpa's funeral, after we got home, there were the most beautiful rainbows EVERYWHERE.  And I mean everywhere.  They were posted all over my Facebook page.

There is hope.  Jesus conquered the grave.  And all those who call on His name shall be saved....

I believe Grandpa is with Rachel right now.  And I will not be surprised at all if God reminds us of that hope tomorrow (today!) with a rainbow.  It's a sad day down here, but I bet there is a lot of dancing going on up there. ♥

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