Today marked two years that my grandpa Max passed away. That was truly one of the worst days of my life. It has left such a big hole in my heart. I had been waiting to hear from my mom that fateful Sunday night. I had known for days, well actually six months almost to the day, he was dying, but that knowledge never really prepares you for when it happens. You would think that somehow knowing in advance that it would somehow make it less painful but it really doesn’t.
Six months previously, my mom and been talking about him and we both knew he’d been sick. We didn’t really know what was going on until this one doctor’s appointment. I was at work when my mom called and told me the doctor told her, my grandma and grandpa he had six months to live…cancer was killing him. I was devastated. I was okay on the phone but I hung up and talked with my friend Tiffiny and I broke down. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye and then I also felt so incredibly selfish because she wasn’t given at least that much when it came to her cousins a little more than the year before. I couldn’t help it though. I was 30 years old and I didn’t know about life without a grandparent, particularly the one I was closest to for all my life.
I think for me that’s the big deal right there. I was so lucky to have had him in my world for 30 long years. So many of my friends lost their grandparents so much sooner than that. I still have three remaining as I type this. That’s pretty special. I’m so grateful for that too. I miss my grandpa so much but I am also so very grateful for the time I had with him and am frequently thinking about the times I had with him.
I remember the first time he took my brother and I fishing. I caught my first fish with him. I was so excited over some little fish…was so silly. The time spent with him wasn’t silly. I remember him always telling us grandkids that if we do something, we need to do it right the first time. I remember always going to my grandparents house and feeling so excited to be there. I used to play upstairs in the attic with my cousin Felicia. We’d play dress up with all the old things up in that crazy attic.
I remember my grandpa taking me and brother ice skating. My grandpa was always about sports. He used to coach basketball to the kids in his neighborhood. The above photo was taken when he was 80 years old and two months into his final months. He got on his very first skateboard at 60 years old and used to skate with the neighboring kids. I remember those days. I remember kids were always coming around to talk to my grandpa because he was so good to them. He always had great advice and trying to guide kids who so needed it. He was a very kind, loving, caring person.
He worked for the Union Pacific for more than 40 years. He believed in hard work. He and his brother bought my grandparents home for a whopping $10 back in the day, had it moved and then he and his brother did all the plumbing and electrical work to get that house up and running. He was such a smart man – he didn’t have much formal education but he understood things better than most. He was resourceful and always had a sense of humor about him.
Grandpa was also a devout Catholic. One of my favorite stories about him was when my uncle was a baby and so sick, he made a promise to God. He promised that if Randy got well, he’d ride his bicycle all they way from Rawlins, Wyo., to Chimayo, New Mexico. He did just that. My grandma and the three kids, my mom and my uncles rode in the car while he rode his bike. He kept that bike for a long time. He was dedicated to his family, his faith and to always doing his best. I learned so many lessons from him. I was so lucky to have had him. I don’t think I could say that enough times. I miss him dearly but I’m ever so glad to have my memories of him and of my times with him. Oh how I loved his sense of humor. He was a bit mischievous. He loved to joke and prank people. I loved that twinkle in his eye every time he’d get into a bit of trouble for his humor. I miss that so much. I know he’s with me though. He’s in my head and heart always. Thank God for photos and memories. I’m so lucky…even beyond those 30 years.