For many knowing their grandparents growing up wasn’t super common, for even more knowing their great grandparents was unfathomable, but for me, not only have I known my great grandparents I have been blessed to have them into my adult years. My great grandparents have always meant the world to me and as some of the most amazing individuals I know. I valued every time I was able to take the 6 hour trip to see them. Every phone call I would receive from them warmed my heart and touched my soul beyond words. As wonderful as my parents and grandparents are the ability to grow up with my great grandparents is truly one of the most touching things in my life.
At 19 just a few short months after my beautiful birth daughter was born I received a call I was not ready for, a call that shattered my whole word. At 88 years old, my great grandmother had shockingly passed away. I had spoken to her just days before, and had actually set up to call her that very morning. I was crushed that I never was able to say goodbye, that she would never be able to meet my soon to be husband SCM, or my children. I was crushed to know I would never again play a game of Rummy with the wonderful women who taught me the game. I had a hole in my being.
Watching my great grandpa struggle with the loneliness of losing his love hurt me even more but despite begging he vowed to not leave his home, their home. Living completely on his own and more spry than men a quarter his age he continued on, making goals through his sorrow. In July of 2010 he did me the incredible honor of walking me, alongside my father, down the aisle as I married SCM. It was an amazing moment for me, a true blessing.
8 weeks after LM was born he was able to meet his very first great great grandchild and the moment he held her I bawled like baby. I thought about my great grandmother and how much she would have loved to meet LM, whose middle name is the same as hers. I thought about how truly blessed and lucky we were in that moment for him to be able to meet LM.
Throughout the last nearly 5 years since my great grandmother has passed we have made that 6 hour trip to visit great grandpa many times and each time have valued it beyond belief. At 94 he was climbing his roof to clear leaves, living on his own, driving, gardening, and being a general badass. Nothing was stopping him. A week before his 95th birthday, a month ago, as we prepared to travel to see him, I received another unexpected phone call, he had had a stroke and things weren’t looking good.
The intense emotions that passed over me when I heard those words brought me to my knees. MM was 3 months old and hadn’t met him yet, I hadn’t talked to him in a week, our plans for going down to his birthday this year had started to unravel due to Army orders for SCM, and now, very suddenly, he was in poor health. I cried for days and tried to formulate a million different plans to be able to be down with him. Finally it was decided that my grandparents would bring him back to live with them so that they could care for him since he no longer could live on his own. They live half the distance, a mere 3 hours away from me.
This last week we loaded up and took the drive to my grandparents house. The moment I laid eyes on my great grandpa it took a lot to not burst into tears. I had been so afraid something was going to happen to him before we were able to see him. Much smaller, more tired than I have ever seen him it pained me to see the struggles he was facing. We stayed for the week and were able to visit and relax together. He was able to meet his second great great grandchild which he thought was pretty extraordinary and so did I. He was able to play and hold both MM and LM and I was able to remind him again just how very much he means to me.
I know that my great grandpa is not going to be around much longer, I can see it in his eyes and I know that he is starting to be ready to be with great grandma again. It breaks my heart to think of a world without him as well, and it breaks my heart to see him struggle so. I don’t know what I am going to do when that inevitable phone call comes, but I do know that in this time I have now where he is closer I will be there every moment I can. I want to spend time with him and I want the kids to spend time with him because I want them to be able to know the truly amazing and wonderful man that he is and that I have been beyond blessed to know throughout all my nearly 25 years on this earth and counting.
This week could not have meant more to me and couldn’t have been better. Our generations may be vastly different but the knowledge to be learnt from him, the love to be gleaned and given, the stories and memories to have, they are beyond measure. This week I have remembered just how truly blessed I am. I know that when God does call upon great grandpa to leave this earth and be with his bride, which I hope is many many more years from now, I will be secure at least in those memories and those moments that have made my life ever so rich and blessed for he truly is an amazing man.