I've had quite an eventful week. My Mom flew into town on April 19th and my Dad flew in on April 21st for my graduation from BYU. (There will be another post about graduation). On April 22nd, the first day of Graduation, we got a call from my uncles that my Grandfather-- my Mother's Father-- had passed away.
My grandpa was a brave and mighty man. He fought in the south pacific during World War II as a Ranger in the Army-- which is a pretty big deal. Grandpa was in the front line, and would lay on barbed wire for the rest of the soldiers to run over him safely. He had scares on his chest from the barbed wire. To top it off-- he was also a purple heart veteran. A land mine blew up close to grandpa, he was thrown up high into the air and was knocked out when he landed. He said that his first sense to come back was his hearing, and he couldn't see or move. He was scared that an enemy might stab him with a bayonet. He finally recovered all of his senses and made it safely back to camp. He proceeded to go back out and fight.
After he returned from war Grandpa continued to excel in a very dangerous occupation-- a fire fighter. He became the chief firefighter and saved many people's lives and possessions. What an amazing man.
After my Grandfather's 80th birthday bash he had a stroke. It was devastating to him. He had become an avid golfer since he retired, and his stroke left him partially disabled with regards to speech and walking. He could no longer play golf. Somehow he got on with his life. About a year ago my grandfather's condition worsened, and he longed to move in with a family member-- he needed help, and didn't want to live in assisted living or a nursing home. My Mother and Father graciously offered him a place to stay in our home. After some renovations to our small home my grandpa moved from North Carolina to Maryland. My dedicated mother took care of him every day. She prepared his meals, cleaned his rooms, took him to the doctor, and did anything else he requested. My father also became closer to grandpa. Less than two months ago my grandpa suffered from a mini-stroke that completely took away his ability to speak. His conditioned continually worsened until he couldn't do anything for himself. My parents have always done whatever they could for grandpa, and I know he was grateful.
My parents had been planning to fly out to Utah for my graduation for many months, and did not want to miss it, even though Grandpa's condition was very poor. My dad changed his flight so he would only be away from grandpa for a couple days instead of a week-- he is so caring. I felt bad that neither of my parents were with grandpa when he died. But two of my uncles were. Since my parents were out of town my grandpa stayed in a nursing home for less than 2 days before he passed- due to natural causes. Most of his 9 living children were able to visit him recently. Both of my parents were very grateful that my aunt and uncles were able to spend time with grandpa while they were away in Utah. It was most important to them that Grandpa had family around him when he passed-- and that wish came true.
I remember Grandpa visiting our family when I was a young child. It was during the time in his life when he was golfing all the time. Grandpa's skin has always been so tan that my older sister thought he was black!! Everyone in my family says I have grandpa's dark skin :) There is a precious video at home in Maryland where my older sister Melissa is recording, she walks into my room and grandpa and I are playing princess. I have a tiara and grandpa is having a ball. I used to be the "pretty princess queen." He came to our house for Christmas and I remember he got me a doll that I absolutely loved. He would call me Dolly all the time too :) I'll have to ask my parents to email me pictures/videos from my childhood with grandpa, they are so precious and are making me happy just thinking about it!
I was home last for Christmas and New Years for 2009. Aaron and I were able to spend time with grandpa. In his old age one of the only things he enjoyed in life was watching duke basketball. Because of him--even though I am from Maryland (one of Duke's rivals)--I will always be a Duke fan. We had the chance to watch a few games with him, and it was so fun to see him get excited about something. Below is the last picture I have with grandpa, on new years eve.
I know that grandpa is in a better place. Though his death is sad, I know he is happy now. He would tell us how he wanted to die so badly-- he couldn't enjoy many aspects of life that had made him happy before. I know that grandpa is now reunited with his deceased parents, siblings, and son. I'm sad that I won't be able to attend his funeral. But I am really excited that in a few weeks he will be buried in Arlington Cemetery. Ever since he returned from war he longed to be buried in Arlington, and his dream has come true. It is such an honor to be buried at this national monument. I am so proud of my grandpa, and can't wait to show my children the momentous place he is buried.
Writing this post, even though it's unusually long, has helped put me at peace with his passing. We all have to mourn in our own ways, and I thank you for reading through this :)