A letter to you, Grandpa

Don’t think I will ever forget about you. It’s been 10 years -to date- since your passing. I was just 14-years old when it happened, in my beginning phases of the wicked teen years. When I think about you, I think about the weekly visits you made to our house. No friend or family member visited us as regularly as you did. Every Sunday, without fail, you would be at our house. You would always sit in the smallest corner at the kitchen table, taking up the least amount of space. Mom and dad would be rushing around the house, as if they had important matters to attend to. I was a child for the years that you came to see us. Every time you walked in the door, I always put on a smile and said “HI GRANDPA” right away. That was my child-like way of showing that I cared. You were my only grandpa for the majority of my young life, because Grandpa Jack passed when I was 5.

The way you dressed makes me smile now, but laugh as a child. It was the epitome of a 1990s grandpa fashion… that secretly sometimes embarrassed me when we would be out in public. If anyone knew you, they knew your signature beer belly. You would wear shirts that were always two sizes to small, adorned with some carpenter pants (after all- you were a carpenter for most of your life) & ALWAYS held up by overalls. I remember your laugh, that would not only shake the house, but also your beer belly. When you laughed, your face would turn bright red like a cherry. I shared a lot of those laughs with you as a kid, although failing to remember what they were about.

You were a man of few words, especially if you didn’t have your morning beer yet. I always looked forward to the Sacagawea gold dollar you would bring me every week. You loved coins, and saving money. It’s not until days like today when I understood the value of this; because of the college fund you started for your grandbaby, not knowing at the time whether I would ever make it to college. If you’re wondering now where those funds went, they financed my entire first semester at a technical college before I transferred to the real deal, a private college.

To this day, grandpa, I remember your smell. I remember that you had a warmness about you that always made me feel loved. It was a confusing time in my life when you left us, but I will never let go of this one last memory…

It was the last time I saw your face. You were in the hospital bed, resting after your “routine surgery” that ended up being the last few days of your life. You couldn’t talk because you had so many tubes down your throat. I was 14 and naïve… all I knew my fear of hospitals and seeing family sick. I was scared because I didn’t know the technical medical diagnosis. Mom and the doctors spoke often, but I didn’t want to be around to hear it. This moment caught me so off guard, but it proved to be so tender and so peaceful. No one was in your room at the time, so I crept in. I figured you didn’t hear me, but all I could mutter was a weak little: “Hi grandpa”, feeling that little girl in me come out. Not knowing how to use my words or what words to even say. My hand was on yours. Your eyes shot open, and you reached up and squeezed my hand, so hard that I physically could not let go. It didn’t last long, but that was all the reassurance I needed from you to know things will be okay wherever you and that strong-willed half Polish, half Slovenian soul of yours went. Mommy and I loved you so very much. I’m sure I can speak for most of the family in saying WE MISS YOU!

PS- your second grandchild was just born last week. I can’t wait to share these memories I have of you with her.

Love,

Your granddaughter, Kayla 💕

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