Saturday, November 28, 2009

Grandpa

SS4 Contemplation

My grandpa passed away. We are very sad, but also thankful for the very long and happy life he lived. He was 93 years old. and up until a few months ago, he was still living on his own.

This past spring, Corey and I stayed with grandpa when we went to Wisconsin to meet with a potential birthmother. In the past few years when we visited, we stayed with my cousins and my parents spent the night as his place. I wasn't sure how it would be staying with him without my parents because sometimes grandpa could be kind of quiet, not knowing what to talk about. This night though, grandpa stayed up late with us, recounting stories from his childhood. One thing that amazed Corey and me, was how grandpa could remember the names of people and places from way back then, just like it was yesterday.

I asked him to tell us the story of how his parents emigrated from Czechoslovakia to the United States. He told us how his father came first, working long hours to make enough money to send for his wife, my great-grandmother. She was staying with his parents. Just when he thought he had sent enough money for her ticket, he found out that his parents had taken the money and bought a team of horses instead! In the end, my great-grandmother made it here and that is how my family came to live in the US. Grandpa was born here.

Grandpa had all kinds of other great stories, including the one about how he lost the little finger on his right hand after falling asleep while working a second shift at the factory, filling in for his brother. I'll leave out the gory details, but I will just say that it is a story that all the grandkids liked to hear, if only for the shock factor.

Grandpa was a kind and gentle man, with big strong hands and a tight hug. He had a witty sense of humor and he loved telling jokes. He was fiercely proud of his family and his great-grandkids were the light of his life. Right up until the end, he kept up with their sports and other activities. He was so happy when Lily came into our lives. I will be forever grateful that she was able to meet him.

It was hard to see him go, but everyone has their time and this was his. He was ready,

The night before the funeral, 9 year old RJ, penned a letter to his great-grandpa. He wouldn't let anyone read what he wrote. It was between him and grandpa. At the funeral, he walked up to the casket and took out the folded piece of paper. He reached over and tucked it into grandpa's pocket.

Grandpa touched each of our lives in so many different ways. He will be greatly missed.

8 comments:

Nanny said...

From your letter, your Grandpa sounded like a wonderful man. You were very fortunate to have him in your life.
It was nice that you had that last memory of staying with him last spring.
My thoughts are with you and your family during this time.

Laura said...

I'm so grateful that you were able to spend some pretty precious moments with him. I'm all weepy reading your post, eloquently written. Love ya...

Tonia said...

I'm so sorry Brook - sending hugs!!

Butts said...

Lily will love these stories. So glad you had such a great Grandpa! I've been thinking of you often the last few days. Hope to see you sometime soon!

Susannah said...

I'm so sorry but so ahppy that you have such nice memories and stories to pass on. Love and hugs coming your way!

Katy said...

We are thinking about you. How wonderful that you have such recent good times with your Grandpa to reflect on, but how sad to say goodbye. We are sending you buckets of love.

Tami said...

What a beautiful tribute. He seems like he was such a positive force in your lives. I know he will be missed by all of you. I'm not sure if this is your Mom's Dad or your Dad's Dad, so please give my regrets to your Mom or your Dad at the loss of their father.

Brook said...

Thank you all. Tami, grandpa was my dad's dad. I should post some pictures of them together. Cut from the same cloth, for sure :)