Today is Grandparent's Day at my son's school. As we speak, my dad is packing his lunch and getting ready to make the 1 hour drive out to Damien's school and spend the afternoon with him. Damien bounded out the door this morning, anxious for 11am to come around..because then "Papa" would be there...
It brought back memories of days gone by for my. My grandpa, my "pappy" as we called him, regularly attended functions like that in my elementary school days. My mom's side of the family never really paid much attention to us grandkids. But my dad's side...every single one us was spoiled. And now its our kids that are spoiled by their great-grandma.
My grandfather ruled with an iron fist. But we never doubted that he loved us. He always told it to us straight. No fluff. And no telling us what we wanted to hear. Even if it meant hurting our feelings, you always knew that Pappy was telling the truth.
2 years before he passed away, I was due in court for a custody hearing. I had no lawyer and no money. No one in my family could help me out. "Call your grandfather" my dad suggested. I bristled at the idea at first. While I knew that my grandpa would help me out, I didn't want the lecture that would come with it.
I did end up asking for the money. And I did get the lecture. But I could see the love in my grandpa's eyes. He loved me. He loved Damien.
It took me a year to pay him back. And when I did.. he told me "I loaned you that money because I knew that if I didn't, you wouldn't have a chance to raise your son. I needed to give you that chance. That money is always there if you need it."
On December 1st 2004, I got a phone call from my dad. "Are you sitting down?" I knew that it was bad. His voice broke as he told me "Your grandfather, he died..." I remember hanging up the phone and falling to the floor. Not my grandfather. He was 10ft tall and bullet proof. He can't be gone.
As I made the drive to their home, I prayed that it was a mistake. My dad had just played a cruel joke on me. I would laugh it off.
But when I entered their home...it was silent. My grandfather's chair, the one he always sat in..stood empty. His coffee cup from that morning on the table. The book open to the chapter he was reading. Pappy was gone.
My dad explained that he had begun having chest pains and trouble breathing the night before, but didn't want to go to the hospital. So my grandmother sat by his side all that night. On the morning of the 1st, he got up. Had tea and coffee, and then sent my grandma to the store for milk...it was while she was gone that he died. He knew it was time and didn't want my grandma to be there. The watch that he wore everyday for years had stopped at the exact time he died...on the exact date.
Christmas that year was different. You never realize how much one person holds your family together until they are gone. My grandfather was the glue. Without him, we all are lost.
It will be 5 years this year. I never got to say goodbye. The last time I saw my grandfather, my pappy, he was in an urn, atop the bookshelf in my grandmother's home. I miss my pappy.
Life is unpredicatble. You learn at an early age, that you cant really depend on anyone. But you could depend on Pappy. No matter what...
I am sorry that my kids won't get to know the grumpy old man who would smile, just a little, as his little grandchildren stuck craft pom-poms to his beard, as he warned them they would go to jail for grandparent abuse. I am sorry that they won't get to have sleep overs and then biscuts and gravy on Sunday Mornings at Hardees, like we did.
But I know that the memory of Pappy lives on for my kids thru me. And thru my dad...my dad will lecture them, tell them stories, let them stick pompoms to his beard. He will be for them, what my pappy was for me.
I am grateful that my dad is there for Damien today, just as many years ago, my Pappy was for me.
I love you Pappy.
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