So today as I woke up and looked at my cell phone I was reminded of the date. June 14th. For some of you it is just another day, for other's you actually think of it and know it as flag day, for me and those in my family that remembered, today is the 12th anniversary of my grandpa's death. I know, you may be thinking it is pathetic to remember, but to me, not so much. Here is why; I'm not remembering his death, I'm remembering his life, more importantly, that life that I love and those memories we made.
It may come as a shock, and much to my family's disagreement, I was not "grandpa's girl." No, that was my cousin Jessica. Me, I was more of a grandma's girl, but I still loved my grandpa more than any other adult man in my life. Why? He was my only constant. He never got mad; well, at us kids, he would get mad at grandma and grandma would have to "talk" to us. Honestly, she was never scary either. (I think that is why they are called grandparents - they just get to love you.) So before I sit here and regale you all with my memories, know that the tears are flowing and I do miss him.
I honestly can't recall my first memory of grandpa. He was an over the road trucker. He drove for Consolidated Freightways (CF) or "corn flake" as a CB handle would be. He was a Teamster grievance officer. I used to love flipping through his log books. I didn't know what they meant or any of that jazz, but his writing was perfect. he wrote in all capitals and ONLY blue ink. I learned military time at a very very young age from looking through these books as that is what he kept time with. I think grandpa was in the air force in the Korean War, but don't quote me on it.
Grandpa used to spend the mornings of his days home sitting at the kitchen table. The radio would be turned to WBTU (I don't even know if that station is around anymore) and he would sit there, read the paper, smoke his cigarettes and drink his coffee. (Judge not, lest ye be judged - besides these are my memories.) Grandma would always let me have coffee too - I think she always put in way more milk than coffee, but it didn't matter I was sitting with grandpa.
I was in the 5th grade and was home sick from school when grandpa's new dining room table set was delivered. I was SO excited. It was so beautiful. When grandpa died, I got this table and chairs. The table has long since been retired and a new one sits in its place in my house, but I am sitting in grandpa's chair as I type this. I think I will always keep the chairs. You are right, I don't know if this one is his per say, but I have all of them in the set, so in the end, I do have it. I find that over the years I too have learned to love sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee. I don't read the paper or smoke cigarettes, but some things are so much a part of a person that the shear act of doing it is a comfort.
Oh, there are so many things I want to share about grandpa. He worked so hard to provide for his family, at least that is the way that I remember it. I am sure there are others that had a different vantage point, but this one is mine. Grandpa is the one who taught me to fish. This included baiting my own hook and cleaning the fish. We would go to Birchwood, Wisconsin and camp. Camping, that is another thing that grandpa did with us. I think that is why, to this day, I love to camp. (Well, that and it is cheap and relaxing.)
When I was 17, the summer between my junior and senior year, grandpa had a triple bypass. He had a big heart, it just wasn't very strong. (This is one thing that I too inherited - I have a valve issue.) Anyway, he wasn't allowed to drive, and what more does a high school senior want than a vehicle of their own. So, here I was driving a Ford F150 extended cab with a double gas tank and cab on the back - yes I was rocking awesome! That was a HUGE truck - I owned the road! Would you believe it, my uncle still has that truck to this day. I only had one accident, I took the turn into the drive a little too sharp and had to have the whole passenger's side of the truck fixed and mom needed a new side view mirror. (Bet you can't guess who was irate and who wasn't!) Grandpa turned it in as a parking lot accident. He was so kind.
Then grandpa passed a way 10 days before my 21st birthday. I remember seeing him lying there in the casket. He looked so rested and at peace. I remember when I gave him my last hug ever he didn't smell like himself. I went and bought Old Spice and splashed it all over him, then left the bottle in the casket with him. My grandpa always smelled the best. His favorite song was Unchained Melody.
I miss him, and know in my heart, that there will be a day I will see him again on the other side of eternity.