What is your favorite memory of a grandparent?
I know it's hard to believe when looking at this face:
but the best word to sum up my Grandpa Gerald is ORNERY. I think that's why Riley adored him so much when Gramps was here visiting. Those two are cut from the exact same cloth. Ornery as all get out, but so cute they can get away with it. :)
It's so hard to pick just one or two things to tell you all about my grandpa, because what's fun about him is everything about him all wrapped up into one package. The way he goes about every undertaking with a whistle on his lips. The way he starts a story and somehow ends up telling it in an Irish accent because it sounds more entertaining. The way he concentrates when working on something intricate and bites his tongue out the side of his mouth. And the way he has, despite all that concentration, cut off almost all his fingers at one point or another.
Grandpa Gerald is simply never boring.
He and Grandma Rita would come to our house when I was little and Grandpa would place his fingers on the piano and pluck out a rousing Redwing for all of us to pair up and dance to. And he'd do this, despite the fact that he could never read a lick of music. I was shocked when he was at my house a few years ago and, despite him losing some of his mental abilities due to Lewy Body Dementia, he placed those hands [with a few missing fingertips] on my piano keys and played that familiar old tune from my youth. And I smiled, knowing Grandpa would always be Grandpa when it came right down to it.
I'm sure he made all of his granddaughters feel special, but when he'd give me a hug and say, "So how's my little sweetheart?" it was hard to believe he felt that much love for everyone. He'd show love in the little things, like teaching me that vanilla ice cream just needed a little bit of warmed applesauce and cinnamon to make the perfect dessert. He'd make filling bird feeders or cleaning up the pontoon boat less a chore and more of a special outing. And he loooooved to stun you with grand gestures. Like the time we went to visit and renting VCRs at the video store was the big new thing... but the store we went to had them all rented out already. So he simply drove to the store and bought a VCR instead.
We thought he'd lost his mind. Or was magical. We were never sure which.
As much as my dad had my Grandma Rita's personality, he had almost all of my Grandpa Gerald's mannerisms. They had the same hands, the same way of talking to themselves as they worked on a project, the same way of giving their attention to their grandchildren and making every task a learning adventure.
It's hard for me knowing that Grandpa won't ever be well enough to travel again, and that it's impossible for me to get to him. I miss walking into a room to give him a kiss on the lips and blowing a raspberry instead just to get him to laugh and say, "You little shit" through his chuckles. I miss playing cribbage with him and having him tell me to "Drop my voice" when I'm still trying to find a combination of 15 and he knows I have none left. I miss the twinkle in his eye when he's telling a tall tale and the sweetness of just sitting and holding his hand.
But now, there's a part of me that is ok knowing Dad will see him before I will again. That when Grandpa's time comes, he and Dad will be able to sit together and talk about all of us, about their lives and the stories that had been left untold between them. Heaven doesn't seem like such a faraway place to me anymore. It just seems like a place where loved ones are waiting. And when Grandpa's time comes, I know Dad will be the first face he sees.
And I kind of hope Dad tells Grandpa to "drop his voice." Just for fun. :)