Life is a funny thing. You think that it will go on forever. That there will always be more time. Another chance.
But it doesn’t work that way.
It’s not even that I knew Grandpa Ron that well. He was my husband’s grandfather, after all. But for the last nine years, he was my grandfather too, in a way. That’s what happens when you get married. The other person’s family becomes your family.
Their Grandpa Ron becomes your Grandpa Ron.
I liked Grandpa Ron. He said whatever came to mind. In a world filled with platitudes, people like that are refreshing.
“I want to give you my dining set as a wedding gift,” he said one day. “My friends and I used to play cards at that big table. Every single friend who sat there has died.” His voice was matter-of-fact. “It’s yours if you want it.”
You see what I mean?
So now our family sits around that table. Every day. We eat there. Talk there. Pray there. Laugh there. Learn there. So much of life happens at the table.
On our wedding day, we went to a local waterfall to have our pictures taken. Across the way—in a parking lot we didn’t even know existed—a man was standing beside a car, watching us through binoculars.
That’s strange, we thought. We had a sneaky suspicion that it was Grandpa Ron. It sure looked an awful lot like him.
“Were you watching us get our photos taken? Why didn’t you just come over and join us?” we asked him later.
“I didn’t want to intrude,” he replied. Bless his heart. We would have loved it if he had come on over.
He used to stop by the house on occasion, with no warning whatsoever. Usually, he had a friend in tow. Usually, the house was a disaster. And usually, the kids were running around like crazed monkeys that had just escaped from the zoo. But he and his friend would sit and visit a while anyway.
I always liked it when they came.
One Christmas, he showed up with a beautiful, pale pink flower for my daughter. “I wanted to be the one to give Evelyn her first rose,” he said. “I thought it would be special.”
And it was.
It has been over a year since Grandpa Ron’s last visit. I haven’t seen him at any family functions either since then. He moved into my in-law’s house two weeks ago, and I thought that we’d have the chance to visit much more often, once he settled in.
They found him the other morning on his knees beside his bed. He had slipped away in the early hours of the day.
Grandpa Ron didn’t want a funeral. He didn’t want any fuss. It’d cost too much, he reasoned.
But he deserves to be honoured.
So thank you, Grandpa Ron. Thank you for your big voice and your big smile. Thank you for the visits. Thank you for the gifts you brought. And thank you for the stories you told.
But, mostly, thank you for being you. We’ll always remember you.
You were loved.