Friday, September 2, 2011

Keep Smiling...

Last Thursday, the day we finally got our power back from the storm, we got the phone call.  My grandpa had passed away. 

He was one of those grandpa's everyone wished they had.  He was always smiling, laughing, and gentle as ever.  He was a huge animal lover.  He would tell us stories of growing up in Oil City, PA, with his pet chicken, which was later served as dinner. 

He grew up poor and without parents in his teen years.  At 18, he enlisted in the army and served in Italy till 1945.  He came home in January 1946 and married my grandmother, who he had met by writing love letters to during the war.  He loved his family, his wife, and his 1988 Chrysler LeBaron.

Summer time was always my favorite time to spend at my grandparents. He would sit on the front porch of their Detroit home and tell us the name of every person that lived in each home on his block. As the people moved out of the neighborhood, my grandparents started to see a change in culture. Where it was once an all Polish neighborhood, turned into many different cultures such as Arabic, Mexican, and African American. Of course, being very old fashion, my grandparents did not take kindly to this. About 4-5 years ago, my grandparents got new neighbors, who were Arabic. My grandpa had fallen in his backyard and could not get up. My grandmother was inside and did not know. The man (who was Arabic) next door saw my grandpa and rushed over, carrying him into my grandparents home. After that, my grandma would buy their children gifts and speak so highly of them. It's funny how perception changed...for the better.

He was not your typical person with dementia.  He would repeat things constantly, or tell you stories about three times over in one sitting, but he was always so happy to see you! 

I could go on and on with the stories...

After my grandma passed in 2008, we worried he may be lost without her.  We moved him into an assisted living, where the staff instantly fell in love with the man we knew.  He would trick the cute, young women staff members into helping him with things, such as unplugging his TV and asking them to help him fix it. 

Now, he is back with my grandma, where I am sure he is driving her nuts with telling her how cute she is or how much he loves her.  That man was not shy when it came to showing his emotions towards us or her.  Yes, I am very sad I lost him, but am so lucky I got to spend 31 wonderful years with him.

I have to hear your best grandpa stories now...


MeredithDuck said...

Aww, darn you! I'm on the verge of tears and I'm at work! But thank you for sharing such a touching story.

I too was a grandpa's girl. I lost him 10 years ago this fall and I think about him all the time.

He made the best ice cream floats. With a little bit of everything hidden in the bottom.

He would play barbie dolls with me, and when I look back at pictures of him doing that I can tell he wasn't loving the act but would do anything to spend time with me.

We would play cards for hours, usually Rummy. He is the only grown man I know that would cheat while playing against his grand kids. But I did learn some great tricks from him. Much to my husbands demise.

When I lost him I felt like I lost a part of myself. Maybe it was because he was the first big loss in my life at the age of 20, but he was also one of the most important people in my life. Still is.

Thinking of you while you revel in the greatness that was your grandpa!

Scientific Housewife said...

I'm sorry to hear that, your family is in my thoughts.

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

I'm so sorry for you loss. Your grandfather was obviously a very special man with a wonderful family.

My grandfather died when I was a child, but I also have incredibly happy memories of him. Like yours, he was the kind of grandfather everyone wished they could have. One thing that I'll always remember, he had this big leather recliner that he always sat in. He would read to me in that chair and I would play games around it; a lot my memories of him involve that chair somehow. It's funny how some things stay with you, but whenever I see a recliner now part of me thinks of him.

alanna rose said...

Danielle, I am so sorry to hear that. My thoughts are with you!

My grandpa took me strawberry picking every summer. It was the best!

Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

I am so sorry for your loss! Thinking of you! What a beautiful tribute to him! Grandparents are truly so special.

Marina said...

I am so sorry about your grandpa.. I lost my grandpa one year ago.. Same day when I graduated from college :(

Kim @ Yellow Brick Home said...

Danielle, I am so sorry to hear this. It sounds to me that you were as close to your Gramps as I was with mine. He passed away a month after we got married.

We called him Pap-Pap, and my dad always said I was Pappy's favorite (something I prided myself on, and pretended as though it was actually true and a secret I had to keep from my siblings and cousins!).

I spent every summer with him and my Grandma until I was about 12. Every morning in the summer, I would help him prune the garden, and I would make him listen to my favorite band on my walkman (Aerosmith!). I made him pick his favorite Steven Tyler song, and he told me it was "Same Old Song & Dance." I think about him every time I hear that song, and it's now Scott's favorite song, too.

He called me Kimmy Baby, and he loved the polka, and I would hop on his feet and he would dance with me around the kitchen while Grandma made spaghetti (she is a tiny Italian woman). In the afternoons, I would help him out at the church bazaar, and I would draw all the signage for the food vendors. When he passed away, my aunt found that he had saved everything I ever drew for him, and she gave them back to me:

My parents say he literally held on for dear life until he could see me walk down the aisle. Although he was very frail by that time, he made my parents drive him from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati so he could see me marry Scott. He was the first person I saw as I walked down the aisle - in the front row - and he was SO happy. I instantly burst into tears! He passed away not even one month after that day.

I think about him EVERY single day.

Amanda @ Little House on the Corner said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I'm sorry for your loss, but from the sounds of it, you've got plenty of wonderful memories and stories. I'm sure it's comforting to know that he's re-united with your grandma now.

the cape on the corner said...

i'm so sorry to hear of your loss. having just two weeks ago lost my father, i know the pain you are going through. how wonderful to think he is with your grandma now.

The Brick Cottage said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Your memory of him is precious. He sounds like a wonderful man and loving grandfather.

Oonafey said...

We almost lost my grandfather "Opa" three years ago. He spent 4 months in the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure. He's no longer the man I remember, but he's still my grampa.

I don't remember much from my childhood, but I do recall when we were little and he would take us to the store, he'd let us pick out any toy we wanted... I chose a fake electric shaving kit at Aldi once and he bought it, no questions. lol What does an 8 yr old girl need with a shaving kit?!