Monday, June 11, 2007

Saturday was a long, hot, tough day!

Saturday was my Grandpa's estate sale. I wanted to go be there, to support my mom and her sisters (and her brother...but he's a pretty tough cookie! :o)). They ended up doing all of the supporting...I did all the crying! Not exactly how I'd pictured it.

I want to tell you some of what I remember about my grandpa and his two wonderful, he wasn't married to 2 women at the same time! I can remember going to "the farm" to visit my grandparents when I was little. I would wake early in the morning, and go upstairs as quietly as possible, if I woke anyone, I'd have to share my grandma...and I wanted her all to myself! No matter how early I woke, she was always in the kitchen. She would either be sitting on her stool, or leaning on her crutches. Surely something yummy was cooking! I would give and get a morning hug...then we would start talking and looking at the kittens out the window. She loved those kittens! But unfortunately, she couldn't go outside to play with them. My grandma had a major infection in her hip, and from that point on, she could only walk or stand with the help of crutches...and there were stairs to get outside to those cute kitties. She would point out her favorite, and being the obedient granddaughter (and kitten lover myself) I would go outside and get it. I would bring in the little fur ball and we would pet it and play with it. I'm sure the kitten got milk or some other tasty treat! But we always had to make sure the cat was outside when Grandpa got up...or got back from checking the cows. Grandpa didn't like animals in the house, so out the cat would go! I cherished those early mornings with my Grandma Vera! I can remember "trying out" her crutches every time we went to visit, just to see how much I had grown! Grandma spent a lot of time sitting in an old yellow recliner, a tiny recliner by most standards, but it fit her body perfectly!

After Grandpa would get up...or come back (it seems he was always up before the sun, checking the cows or the fields), my brother and I would beg for rides in the tractor! What a special treat for two city kids! Our favorite was going out in the winter to feed the cows (ok...I know they aren't all cows, but hey...give me a break, I'm a city kid!). That big huge bail of hay would be put on the back of the tractor, and it would unroll across the field. That was soo cool to watch, and seeing the cows come running from all parts of the pasture. Cool!

When I was in Jr. High, Grandma & Grandpa decided to move to town. That recliner moved with her, but not the cats. About 18 months (give or take a few months) after moving to town, my Grandma Vera died. This was the first time someone I really knew and loved had died. I didn't know what to do. I can remember my brother being a tough guy, and not showing too much emotion...until the funeral. I can remember him sitting in the pew, his shoulders just shaking.

A year or so after Grandma died, a friend of Grandpa's started dragging him to the local "Singles" functions. Dances and such for the older set. He didn't want to go, but eventually did. At one of those dances, he met his second wonderful wife, Wilma. They eventually got married, and started traveling! Oh, how they loved to travel. Alaska, Hawaii, all over the US! I never thought of my farmer grandpa as a traveler...but oh did he love it! Wilma brought a spark of life to Grandpa, and a joy to his eyes that we hadn't seen in a long time. She was wonderful!

Here's irony for of Grandpa's favorite companions during his last years was a cat! Snooty adopted Grandpa and Grandma Wilma, and was even invited into the house! Snooty would climb the ladder with grandpa to hang Christmas lights. Snooty would curl up on grandpa's lap when he read the paper. Snooty was always there to nuzzle and love...inside and out!

About five years ago, Wilma had a stroke...and it wasn't until this happened, that we all realized how many problems my grandpa was having with his memory. She was the brains of the operation, he was the brawn! Wilma never did recover from that stroke, and passed away a few months later. That was also a very hard time. Grandpa would lay down for a nap, and wake up wondering where Wilma was. I don't know how many times he was told she died, and for was all new. She died at least 20 times for him. So very sad. He was worried that he had done something that had caused her death. He was worried that her son, Butch, was angry with him. We were all broken hearted, for him, and with him.

Grandpa hated the nursing home, so my wonderful aunt took him in. A nice lady would come and stay with him in his own home during the day while my aunt worked, then she would pick him up and take him out to her farm to spend the night. This went on for a couple of years. His health and memory continued to fade. Last summer, he was in the hospital and they discovered that he had cancer in one of his hips. He was too weak to try treating it, the treatments would have killed him. He didn't understand why he couldn't get up out of bed (his hip was broken) and why he couldn't get out on that tractor and work the fields! He got downright angry at times that we wouldn't let him out of bed! This time was very difficult for my mom and her siblings. The next 6 months would be difficult, as well. In January, Grandpa got really sick, again. But this time, he couldn't pull himself out of it. At this time, my dad was also in the hospital fighting for his life. We went to visit Grandpa, so that I could say goodbye, but also so I could make sure he knew that his youngest daughter (my mom) loved him dearly, and wished she could be there herself to tell him that she loved him. But she couldn't leave my dad and drive 4 hours away to see her dad! Talk about stress, and heartbreak! My husband (a pastor) and kids and I said the Lord's Prayer with Grandpa before we left. Grandpa died about 20 minutes later. I think he held on just long enough for us to leave, because my kids kept saying "Is he dead? Is he going to die now?" They were so scared that he was going to die while we were there. Thank you Grandpa! My mom was able to make the trip out for his funeral (one of my dad's siblings stayed with him at the hospital).

My Grandpa was a wonderful example of a quiet, but mighty, faith. He began every meal with a prayer, and never missed a church service if he could help it. He always served as an usher. He loved God, and knew that God loved and forgave him. He wasn't the kind to bash you over the head with his Bible, or give you a guilt trip...but you knew where he stood. He was very ornery! Wrestling and tickling with grandpa was always one of the funnest games. It would usually start with one of us cousins trying to get the pliers out of the holster on his belt. And then...the fun would ensue! He would take us for rides all over the farm and surrounding country roads on his motorcycle.

Ok...back to this weekend. My aunts have spent months going through the "stuff" at the house and in the shop (grandpa's huge shed full of his stuff). That had to be so hard! I thank them for doing this difficult job. Walking up to Grandpa's house and seeing all of his furniture on his yard and driveway...I just started crying. Especially when I saw Grandma Vera's yellow recliner sitting next to Grandpa's black one. My cousin Jenny and I couldn't stand it anymore, and went into the empty house. Just then they auctioned off those two chairs (I think they went for $10 each...they were pretty old)...we wanted to scream, but instead we cried. Whoever bought those chairs has no idea of the story behind them. They don't know that that ugly yellow chair fit Grandma so well. That she would rest her weary body there so many years ago. They don't know that that black vinyl chair is where a tired farmer would come rest between working the fields and tending the cattle. They don't know how many times grand kids would pile on top of him to get him to wrestle with us. They don't know what wonderful people used those chairs...they just don't know. Yes, Saturday was a very hard day. I cried off and on all the way home. There is nowhere to go back to. Another family will soon be moving into the house in town. The farm is still there, but I haven't been there in years. I can go to Quinter to visit my aunts and uncles, but Grandpa's house is no longer Grandpa's.

I do take comfort in knowing that I have what no money can buy. I have the memories of a wonderful Grandpa...and two wonderful Grandma's! I also have the assurance that I will see all three of them again one day. That is one wonderful thing about the Christian faith...death is not the end! Death is the doorway to a promise, a hope of eternal life! I am not sad for Grandpa, he was so weak and frail...he wasn't happy. I am sad for me. I will miss him! But, I WILL see him again! Thank You, Jesus, for that Hope!!!
If you've read this far, I thank you. Thank you for letting me pour out my thoughts and feelings. Thank you for 'listening' and loving me anyway. If you were blessed enough to know my Grandpa or either of his great are blessed indeed! (The top picture is when Grandpa was able to come to my home for a visit...shortly after my youngest was born. The other two pics were taken the last Christmas Grandpa was relatively healthy. I don't know if he knew who I was or not, but he knew we loved him. And he kept telling me that I had the cutest kids he had ever seen! Thanks Grandpa!!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Andie - You make your Mom and I so proud. Thanks for the memories -Hey, that would make a good song.