November 1 was the 20 year anniversary of my grandpa's death. I remember so many details of that day. Answering the phone when my aunt called (she never called). Giving the phone to my grandma and realizing why my aunt was calling. Driving to Iowa for the funeral (the one and only day I ever missed school for a personal reason). I was 16 and my grandpa was the first person I was close to that died. I remember looking at him so peaceful in the casket thinking that he would be cramped. He would need to stretch, right? No. He was dead. He looked so different. Fortunately, at that time, I journaled and wrote down every detail and feeling from that time. I don't remember much about my grandma at that time and how she was. It was my grief and I was missing my grandpa.
Charlie's grandma died a few months ago. She was 94 and had Alzheimer's. She had been "gone" for a few years. It was sad but it was time. I met Charlie's grandparents a few months before our wedding in 2004. A year after that, they moved back to Indiana. They had lived in Arkansas the past 40 years. Charlie's grandparents became my surrogate grandparents because I had lost mine. They were important to me and I made sure we visited them a few times a year. By the time they moved back here, his grandma's alheizmers had already started. Several years ago, Charlie's grandpa pulled me aside and said "I wish you had known her when she was herself." I wish I had too.
At his grandma's funeral my focus wasn't on her. It was a celebration of her life and I learned so much about her, her life, her past and who she was. I learned so much about all my grandparents at their funerals. These are the things I want to teach my kids about their grandparents while they are still alive. At her funeral, my focus was on his grandpa. They were married for 72 years. They knew each other their entire lives. They were never apart and were very dependent on each other. These last few months, she needed a lot more care and they were separated for the first time ever. He would wake up and spend his days sitting by her side. I wasn't sure how he would do without her.
|Grandpa Fred gave Grandma Dorothy this in the 8th grade. |
And she kept it... for 80 years.
We took the kids to visit Grandpa a few weeks ago. It was a good visit. He is doing well. As well as he can be. He did say that he still misses her and he often turns while watching TV to talk to her, forgetting that she not there. The kids know Grandpa Fred and know what to expect when we visit. I'm so glad that they have that relationship with him.
I love the map in the background. There are pins for where all of his kids, grandkids and great grandkids live.
I have read a few articles lately talking about the importance of kids knowing where they came from and passing down those important family stories. I don't know why but apparently kids that know their family history have more confidence. I can believe that. I love family stories. I spend a lot of time talking to Laci about her grandmas, grandpas, their families and telling them those little stories - like when Grandpa got lost on his way to kindergarten or how Grandma used to have sleepovers with her friends and her favorite afterschool snack was vanilla and chocolate ice cream swirled together. I show them pictures. I tell them about their great aunts and great uncles. I want them to know where they came from so that they know who they are and where they are going.