Wednesday, April 6, 2011
6 years ago...
My mother was a single mother. I was an only child. I was the only girl in a family full of boy cousins. I was the youngest for a while too, until 3 more boys were born later. I didn't have a father in my house. But I had someone who filled those shoes quite nicely. My grandfather, Leo.
He was one of those grandfathers who always played with me. We always had a new scheme we would cook up together, and man could we laugh. He loved me so much, and oh my gosh, did I love him. He was my EVERYTHING. I wanted to be nowhere but sitting on my PaPa's lap, telling jokes and just spending time with him. I was fortunate to never live very far from my grandparents.
I spent most days after school at their house, and most of the time I was there I was with my grandpa in the garage or in the yard. He was my hero, and my best friend. My BEST FRIEND.
I feel so fortunate that I had a best friend from birth. There are very few memories of my childhood in which my best friend was not a part. He came to my plays, Oohed and aahed at my art work, always helped me with my science projects and my woodshop assignments, taught me how to play cribbage and beat me constantly at Gin. He read me stories, or let me read them to him, and always held my hand-even when I was an adult. He took me on driving lessons, which is something he NEVER did for anyone else, and drove 750 miles to be there on the day that I got married. I didn't tell him then, but if I could have had a best man on my side, it would have been him.
When I was a little girl, and I was so sick and in the hospital, he came to see me every day. He would take me on "walks" even though I was too weak to walk, and he would push me in my wheel chair and take me all over the hospital to all different floors and then pretend he couldn't remember which floor I was on. He always knew exactly what I needed to cheer me up and take care of me.
He and my grandmother bought a brand new couch after I had a bout with the chicken pox and got a weird rash from their old one.
He hated his picture to be taken, and one Christmas, I was given a gold locket with a formal portrait of my grandparents inside it. My grandmother told me later that it was his idea to do the pictures so that I could have a picture in my locket. He even lovingly engraved my initials in the hearts on the front.
He made me a mirror with his own hands when I was six, and gave it to me for Christmas. I still have it. It's in my son's room. Whenever I look at it I think of the love that went in to it... The love he had for me.
When it was time for me to have a bike, He went to the junkyard and got all these different bike parts and made me a bike. When I told him I needed a kick stand, he asked me to draw him some blue prints, and I did, and when I presented them to him, he made me a kick stand... to my exact specifications.
I remember once, when I was living in San Diego, far from home, I called him to tell him all about my new adventure by the beach, and he told me he loved me... "I love you, Susie." It was a big deal because he never said it first.
I remember too, saying goodbye to him for the last time, and told him I would see him in a week or two when I got back home from Utah. I was called the next week on my trip with the news that he had collapsed and was in a coma.
I remember feeling so much all at once. We rushed home, as fast as we could, and immediately went to the hospital, where he was lying in ICU, on life support. I felt so much agony when I saw him there, because all I could think about was the last time I saw his face, and how excited he was to go to this dance at the Seniors center, (he collapsed while getting ready to go out to this dance). He died April 6, 2005. I felt shame and sorrow for not making him more of a priority in my "busy" life. I was instantly reminded of one day when he told me that he missed seeing my face...
So here is an open letter to my best friend, my father figure, and my grandfather:
I miss your face. I miss your voice. I miss your stories. I miss your laugh. I even miss your teasing. I miss your hugs, and I miss holding your hand. I miss our talks, and our inside jokes. I would give anything to see you right now. I need your advice. I need your acceptance. I need to remember how much you love me.
I know you are with Grandma and Aunt Lola, and with others who are gone now too. I know we will be together again. I know our family is forever. But knowing that doesn't change how much I miss you. I really really miss you.
It was so hard to let you go, knowing that in this life I would never see you again.
I guess that's it. I just... miss seeing your face.
Thank you for loving me.