when the call comes time stands down knees buckle wind escapes the very breath I needed to speak. a cry from within – within me – it shocks, shocks the very core of my being, a result everyone warned me of feeling deep inside, but then regret: the regret of putting off everything I should have said when it still mattered. the searching begins the desire for proof – proof we existed together in this world making the memories we shared valid, meaningful and somehow important. but then the awareness arrives, becoming fully aware eyes wide open, there is nothing here to prove our connection; my love. lacking tangible evidence of a bond created out of a deep need to feel a part of something I lacked, is the torture I, until today, didn’t realize I would be living with now forever.
when gathering for granddad’s funeral no one’s vehicle tires turned into the yard similarly. even gravel sounded different as folks drove in and chose a place to park. the earth where his brown Ford pickup had been parked for nearly 70 years – until Uncle drove it away – had grass growing again, but had for nearly fifteen years, I suppose. I wonder if I’m the only one who noticed. I never asked.
Today is going to be a hard day. We’re grateful to be together and we want to thank you for being here with us.
When dad asked if any of us wanted to speak my siblings looked at me, knowing I might just agree if they encouraged me enough. Earlier this week I decided I’d better get my thoughts down in preparation for a service but they didn’t arrive. Last night at 10:30 my words finally found me.
Grandpa had a son who arrived every morning for coffee – a confidant – a daughter who knew the best time to call for a long chat, – best of friends – and a son who made the best pancakes he’d ever had – a companion.
Do I talk about harvest, a good coupon for the grocery store or hearty breakfast food? None. These three knew their father. But did we…
All I could think of when I heard the news was how well Grandpa massaged Grandma’s feet with peppermint lotion every night in the living room. I think that sticks with me even today as a beautiful reminder of how precious love is but I knew there was more of the man I wanted to share today.
I guess you could say we were the first four of his eight grandchildren. The Nebraskans – first ones to test his nerves, to make him chuckle – in a way only grandpa’s do – and the first to ruin much of what he probably told us to stay away from. We were the first four to eat all of his M&Ms – even the ones hidden in the basement fruit room.
The next group of four grandchildren should thank us for helping Grandpa relax. Did he knock on the table harder or softer while playing cards with you guys? A man of few words and even less patience for shenanigans during card playing. Fairly certain it was a softer knock paired with a twinkle in his eye.
His two Kansas Girls, just down the street and his two Colorado Boys, who loved fishing just as much as he did – you four were his pride and joy.
We know for certain, as a retired Grandpa, he loved watching you grow up. His perfected Grandpa chuckle was all thanks to you and his opportunity to finally be there for his loved ones activities.
We feel pretty confident Grandpa Willard taught us all how to work hard. If there was daylight then there was time to weed the garden, move a water hose or tend to a flower bed. Grandpa ran the elevator and not a soul worried about how it was done. Grandpa always knew how to do things the right way.
Grandpa taught us to enjoy the thrill of the ride. A master at the wheel, he often took time to drive us for pizza. Pooches seemed to be his happy place. I can remember the pep in his step when it was time for a good slice of pizza or the largest ice cream cone you’d ever see. When we were kids, whether it was a trip for pizza, ice cream or supper in Denver, Grandpa always delivered.
Mostly, we remember how serious Grandpa Willard took his family responsibility. Not a one of us ever felt neglect or concern for our safety with Grandpa near. He loved his family. The joy across his face was something we all vetted for. Making Grandpa proud was quite an accomplishment. His expectations were to do our best, don’t back down and remember to take care in what we were put in charge of.
Grandpa Willard was proud of us all. The hand tap, the adoring eye contact and the tight hugs proved it. We watched him love his children, Grandma, and Dorothy this way. His love meant the world to all of us. There wasn’t much he missed or forgot. It may have looked like we weren’t listening, Grandpa, but we were – I promise.
Grandpa, when we got to your house yesterday you weren’t sitting in your kitchen chair waiting for us to pull in to the driveway, or looking for the prettiest finches in the backyard. You weren’t in your chair in the living room either. Its gonna take some time to get used to our new view.
We’ll do what we can to continue your legacy of hard work, a little fun and a lot of love for your great-grandchildren. We love you.
praying seems simple
but what do we pray for,
the healing to continue?
even when every single day
maybe we pray for an end
of suffering, yet
I can’t fathom
world’s apart or dust to dust,
so here I am
upon knees, head bowing
please, it’s your will,
and my loved one,
my inner child screams.
Passed through the screen door,
Recalled the carpeted staircase,
Felt the pull of Maxine,
Grandmother, to me.
Twenty-three years, two months
Since we stood closely,
Packing odds and ends
Treasures, to me.
Cabinet I’ll never forget
Cookie dough testing,
“Needs flour, touch it, you’ll see,
Grab the butterscotch chips,
These will be Grandpa’s offerings.”
Sounds made when the drawers
Opened and closed, vintage whisperings,
Now upon my ears,
Fingertips sliding across moments,
Window gifting the same view,
Coverings, crisp and clean
Perfect place, for
Snapping green beans,
Time to move the sprinklers,
Grab a bucket, strawberries to tend,
Summers without her
Still painful, something I dread.
Quiet this morning
Without you here
Clock keeps ticking
Fridge keeps running
My vision continues to blur
Tears of sorrow
Only allowed now
When I can sit
Reflect with respect
You all deserved more
I wish you were here
Calming your families
Bringing them joy
Instead you are in Heaven
War will always be part
Of who you are
But you were so much more
Some gave all
You answered the call
While we stood here
Holding our flag of freedom
You were asked to risk
War and duty took your breath
I owe you at least this
Yet, so much more
Should leave my lips
We miss you
Peace be with your families
A child was born on Mother’s Day
Looking similar to all the rest
A nursery full of beauty
God brought you to her
Laid upon her breast
Blue eyes locked to blue eyes
You fell in love
She was a mere child, as well
The first Grandchild
Daddy’s Boy and Momma’s Joy
Craig, our shining star
You could do no wrong in their eyes
Watching you grow
Dad a strutting peacock
None of us with more pride than she
One day dark clouds rolled in
No advancing past your own floor rolling
To the doctors we’d go
No one stronger than she
Two full years later, finally a diagnosis
Cockayne Syndrome, wouldn’t you know
We sat in silence, held each other close
If only seven years, she’d make them go slow
Craig you rested so well in her arms
We all spoke your silent language
A community of your devoted fans
But none as in love as she
Your fifth birthday here in a flash
Two weeks later, you woke up for the last time
We all ran to your side
In a hospital room we cried, but none like her
Nothing they could do had been decided
Three siblings sat surrounding your mother
She rocked you as we prayed
“God, please don’t take him from her-not today.”
A strong little boy who could never walk
Much too frail, much too sick
Was Heaven sent from Him to her
Yet, at twenty-three she was asked to give you back
Over a decade later you’re still gone
As a man you’d been seen – almost
Still Daddy’s Boy and Momma’s Joy
Blue eyes sparkling, at your Mother
May, the month of beautiful beginnings
The source of every mother’s worst nightmare
Baby Sister, you made it through, pay no mind to the dark days
That’s when Craig is with you
Twelve years ago…we miss you, Craig. We love you. Everyday we’re thankful for the time we had…♥