Grieving is a process. We all know this is true. It’s painful at times; pain like someone punched you in the stomach and took your breath away. I can physically feel the pain when it hits me. That’s the thing with grief. I just don’t know when it’s going to come back and really hit me.
So Dad. It has been almost 2 years since you went your separate way, and I can report that things in life are moving along pretty well. I took off your bracelet like you suggested, and I still feel you with me every day. It’s a good thing. Decisions are sometimes difficult without you, and I sure miss that pat on the back that you always had for me when I needed it. I lost a big fan when I lost you, and fans like you are hard to come by.
It’s summertime now, and your beach house is alive with activity, just like you liked it. Today was special as old friends were there. We shared stories and filled the air with laughter as we sat on the deck that you built. Just as you wanted it. What a great place that beach house you built us is. A strange thing happened though, as I climbed the stairs to your bedroom to grab a pair of sweats for the evening stroll to the beach. Grief hit me. A blow to the throat. A reminder that there is something bigger and stronger than me that controls my destiny. It sure hurts, that blow, but I’ll take it when it comes, because if I hadn’t loved you so strongly, it wouldn’t hurt so much.
Missed you today, but I saw you all around me as I sat on your favorite beach, with some of your favorite people. I captured in photos what I felt was you, and I hope you enjoy them.
~and so it goes.
Until we meet again. My love always,
the view from your chair
the hands you held
L.O.V.E.- you always said, “it’s why we are here.”
a few of your biggest fans!
The ocean is just as beautiful as it was when you sat with us. For that, we are thankful. We miss you Pop.
This was written by my son Shane, who spoke at my father’s funeral in October 2010. My father was 71 years old when he died, and Shane was 15. I want to share it on this Memorial Day 2012. In our excitement for the unofficial start to Summer, may we always take a moment to remember the meaning of Memorial Day.
At my school there is a chapel speaking program for all grades, but there is a special program for seniors. Every Monday morning the whole school gathers in the church and they are treated to usually about 3 students who share a story about somebody or something that has changed their life. I really thought that my “Pop,” known to most of you here today as Bob, would be the topic of my speech when I became a senior. I envisioned praising my beloved grandfather, only to be welcomed to a warm hug afterwards and then listen to Pop talk about how he is honored and humbled by my decision to choose him as my topic. I know this would be Pop’s reaction because he has been the topic of several papers I have written. He has always been my “go to guy” for important people paper topics. After every paper I have written about him, I always receive a letter or a call from him telling me how he is honored to have me as a grandchild. This is truly the best feeling in the world.
I think everyone here agrees Pop’s death was too soon. In many ways he is like a fine wine. He simply got better with age As I became older I have grown curious about the life of my Pop. My family often spoke about the obstacles of Pop’s past, and how he has grown to overcome them and become at peace with himself. Pop experienced and lived life to the core, and he really got an understanding for why we as humans are put here on this earth. He analyzed and studied everything he undertook down to a tee. Anyone who is here today that had Pop work on their home knows what I mean.
I feel as thought God took Pop away from us early to stress the example of his life and how we can all learn from him and his achievements. Pop was at the pinnacle of his life just before he was diagnosed with cancer. Christmas ’09 was perhaps one of the happiest moments of his life in my eyes. I can still see him sitting back in his chair looking over his family together with a grin on his mouth as if to say, “I’ve done it.”
About mid August I received a call from Pop. At the time I was at the mall with a group of friends. I was surprised that Pop was calling me, knowing that he was recovering from surgery at the hospital. I was greeted by Pop’s customary welcome of a “Hey, how ya doin’ buddy?” We chatted and he told me to always extend a helping hand to others and then he told me he loved me. I hung up thinking nothing special of this call until a few minutes later when I thought that Pop never ever stops caring. Sitting in his hospital bed while on several medications, he still took the time to call me and stress his message of love. It was these actions that made Pop special. As the eldest of Pop’s none grandchildren I want to be his messenger to his grandkids.
When I heard the news that the doctors found more cancer in Pop’s abdomen and that there was nothing else they could do, my first reaction was to go to the hospital. I went in and sat bedside with him. He was unaware that he had merely days to live. I cried on his shoulder and told him I loved him. He told me not to worry, and that he will always be with me. These memories of Pop are imprinted into my head like hand prints in concrete. I wanted to spend every moment of his few final days constantly at his side. I am glad that I did. I was able to express feelings that were deep inside me. I told him how he was the best grandfather I could wish for, and how I have nothing but good memories with him. He expressed his feelings to me.
In his last days you could tell he was getting tired. He said he wanted to go to sleep but he couldn’t. I, too, was getting increasingly tired and started to doze off. Pop instructed that he be moved onto the side of his bed so that I would be able to sleep next to him. My Mom and I made a nook for each of us to rest on the small twin hospital bed and I laid my head upon Pop’s soft stomach as he wrapped his arm around me and drifted asleep. Think of that. A man knowing he is dying, puts aside his own comfort to make room for his grandson to sleep beside him. That is truly special.
A woman came up to me at the wake yesterday and said, “You gave a lot to your grandfather.” “No.” I said, “he gave a lot to me.”
I love you Pop.
When my mother and I walked into the store to pick out the stone for my father’s grave something caught my eye. It was a “solar-powered” cross that you place on the gravestone, and after exposure to a day’s light, it would illuminate at night. “That’s so pretty.” I said to my mother. We asked about it, and the man who worked there told us that they didn’t work. “Take one,” he said. “They don’t work. People have complained.” So I happily took one, just because it reminded me of my father. “Thank you!” I said. I kept it in its box for a while, and one day took it out and placed it on the windowsill in my bedroom, just to see what would happen. I was disappointed to find that the cross did not glow. “The guy was right.” my daughter said. I admittedly agreed. The cross remained in my window for a few days because I thought of my father when I looked at it. He always signed his name and put a cross next to it, as a reminder of God‘s love for us every day. He unfailingly believed in God’s unconditional love for each of us.
One evening, not long after, I walked up the back staircase in my house and into my dark bedroom to find the cross was ever so slightly glowing! It worked! I called everyone in to look at it, and everyone came running, smiles lighting up my bedroom. “Look!” I said, “Pop’s glowing!” Its glow has grown into a beautiful light, that fills my window at night. Tonight it looked so pretty I took this picture to share with you. It’s the reminder that keeps us smiling.
Hope… never give it up.