Remembering Grandpa

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When this time of year comes around I approach it with thoughtfulness and contemplation. Valentine’s Day. A day that never held much significance for my husband and I. It always seemed a little forced and more like a ‘Hallmark Holiday’ and we never had enough funds to scrape up for gifts and dinner anyway. If we celebrated, it was simple and we didn’t ever go out to the crowded restaurants. No need to make a fuss.

Now that we have children we are ‘forced’ to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a small way. My kids seem to find a reason to celebrate any day for any reason. The other day they celebrated the marriage of their toy Beanie Boos who were cousins and loved each other dearly. Well okay then…

Valentine’s Day does hold a significance for me now. It has since 2006, because it was the day that my father passed away. I remember that time like it was yesterday and although the pain of losing him from a 5 year agonizing battle with cancer at the time was bad enough, it is so much more evident these past few years. My children have no grandfather. They hardly have family. My mother has been a bright and shining light in their lives and has carried the role of grandparent, but until this past year, my son had no clue what a grandfather was. I explained to him that a grandfather was a man grammy. Lol! It took a while to sink in, but he has friends who have grandpa’s and after a while he not only understood, he longed for that missing figure in his life. While putting him to bed tonight he told me, ‘I wish I had grandpa all to myself. I wish he was here.’

As my children grow older, I often question God’s hand in taking my father home so early. He was only 60 when he died. He was full of life, active in his church, loving to his children and ready to take on the next chapter of his life with my mother. Why take him before he is finally blessed with a boy?! Why did he have to miss out on a grandson who is the spitting image of him with the exact love and passion for life? And why, oh why was it that I became pregnant with my little boy only two months after my father passed away?! A baby that we had waited to have for over three years was finally within our reach and the man who we thought would be enjoying this child with was gone. It was not a coincidence. It was an on purpose. It truly was God’s will, whether I or my mom or the rest of his friends and family wanted it or not. I accept that every day and instead of mourning his loss all these years later, I have tried my hardest to process those feelings of sadness and loss into creating memories of him for my children, so that he is real to them.

A month before Christmas this past year, Jonah came to me asking about fishing. Fishing has been a hot topic in his six year old boy ‘to-do’ list and something I was supposed to teach him last summer, but that goal for me was overridden with a busy wedding season. I’m committed now. He’s gotten me to promise to teach him as soon as spring hits the valley! When my father passed, I was given his most treasured possessions… his fly fishing vest and his fly rod. I was always my dad’s fishing buddy. Long after my dad had given up on the fish for the day, I was the one that kept us out on the water until the moon started to raise above the horizon. My father and I experienced many sunsets together, over pristine lakes and wild skies or the huge irrigation ditches of the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife refuge in New Mexico, where we fished for those huge catfish with fishing rods baited with nasty chicken livers. My dad didn’t fear the stuff. He lovingly baited my hook every time and would then hand the line over to me and say, ‘Go get the big one’. Maybe that’s why I’ve convinced my son that you fish with a fly and bobber. Not as messy and smelly!

As Jonah pelted me with questions about fishing and about his grandpa, I decided that I would introduce him to a few of his grandpa’s things. I got down the vest. It was full of brightly colored flies that my dad had tied himself. I showed Jonah the little forceps that my father used to remove the hooks from the fish’s mouth and the clippers that he would use to tie on a new fly. I explained how grandpa made the flies and how he managed to catch fish, about deep cool water where fish loved to rest and when the best time of day to catch a fish might be. He soaked it up. He asked more and more questions and begged to go fishing like grandpa. He then asked me about grandpa’s gun. My father’s other most treasured possession was his shotgun. He even had it specially designed for his short stature so the barrel is shorter than a normal shotgun. Jonah was amazed that I’d gone dove hunting with my dad a few times as a kid. Amazed that his mom could do something so exciting! This kid needs a grandpa! This 2013-11-26 20.50.18kid is his grandpa! I put the vest over his little shoulders and it hung handsomely off him. Then we got out the shotgun. I explained safety briefly. Told him there was no ammo, but never to point it at anyone and that when he was old enough, his daddy would take him shooting. I let him hold the gun and carry it around. The kid was in heaven and hasn’t stopped talking about it since!!

Jonah and Mickey are at the age where family is everything to them. Not just mom and dad. Jonah craves close relationships with his extended family. He craves a relationship with his grandpa. But in a strange way, he has one. I knew my dad as a physical being. We fished together, lived together, fought together and grew up together. I miss him. Jonah knows a different person. He knows his grandpa is in heaven, that he died before Jonah was born and that his grandpa did cool things in nature. He has his own idea of what his grandpa is, not was. And interesting enough, I believe that because of my father’s once being alive and now living in heaven has helped Jonah understand the concept of God. He has never seen his grandpa, but knows he’s real and lives in heaven. Being able to understand this, has made God real to him as well. He’s told me so many times, ‘how can God be real if we can’t see or hear Him’. I’ve explained in various ways, but used the example of the wind. We can’t see or feel the wind, but it’s there and we can see the affects of the wind. The same is true with his grandpa. We can’t talk to him or hear him, but he was there and he was amazing and I’m here because of him! My husband and I knew him, he was married to grammy and we all have stories about him. I almost wonder if that was part of God’s plan for taking my dad so early and giving me my baby just weeks after his passing. Maybe it had something to do with Jonah’s faith. Jonah’s understanding of who God was because of his grandfather’s legacy.

I will never know God’s purpose for taking my dad at that moment, but I choose to persevere and work with what God has given me. He’s given me a little boy and a little girl who long for family. Where family togetherness is everything. A little boy who bears the physical crooked grin of my father and a little girl who has the same soft hazel eyes. I see him every day in my children. I hear him every day in my son’s loudness. I laugh from him every day in my daughter’s quirky sense of humor. I feel him everyday in my conviction and determination to stand up for what is right and make a stand for what I believe in. He was a strong man. The strongest I know. He has embedded in me an inner foundation of strength that leads to my odd comments and firm stance on issues. He probably had no idea what he imbedded deep down into my inner being, but I owe him everything for the woman I am today. And to honor him, to carry on his legacy, I plan to embed those same convictions and strengths into my children. His legacy will live on in me and in my children and God willing, in their children. Happy Valentine’s Day.








7 thoughts on “Remembering Grandpa

  1. Good golly…I’m crying my eyes out. Tracy, I had forgotten what a brilliant writer you are. Thank you for keeping his memory alive. I miss him too. Hugs and love, Stasia.

  2. I didn’t know you lost your dad only a month and a half before I lost mine. 7 years ago almost! I can relate to you about your children never meeting him. Mine also and even my husband. My husband would have been best friends with my dad and he would have been in heaven to have two grandchildren. Your father was a very sweet man. I love how you see the beauty in his absence. I pray one day I can do the same

    • Charissa, I knew that your dad had passed very close to mine. Our stories are so similar. Even having an older boy and little girl with the same age difference! Our dad’s also passed from the same cancer. Boo ๐Ÿ™

  3. Thank you for sharing this Tracy. And you definitely have a gift for writing. I am so thankful to read these stories about Jonah and Mickey. Even though I see their pictures on Facebook, it’s nice to have your insite on who they are and what great kids they are growing up to be. I can only imagine how hard it was to lose your dad but he obviously lives on in your heart. And though we will never know why he was taken from your family so early, one day Jonah will meet him for the first time. And what a celebration that will be.
    I will always consider your family my own, and I hope one day soon out kids will be able to spend time together and start forming their own friendships.
    I love you guys. ๐Ÿ™‚

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