I have always heard how girls can have special relationships with their Daddies (being a Daddy’s girl myself) but you can also have a wonderful and close relationship with a grandparent. Grandparents can be so special and I can say without a doubt some of my best memories are the ones with my Grandma. I preferred to spend time with my Grandma and even went there after school. My Grandma was my world and I lost her when I was 18, so I understand having a close relationship with a Grandma. However, I have learned through my BFF, how special a Grandpa can be. You see, both my Grandpas were gone before I was born so I never experienced what it was like to have one until I became a part of BFF’s family. It was then, over 22 years ago, that I was introduced to one of the most special relationships I ever witnessed: the one between BFF and her Grandpa. This week, unfortunately, we lost this beautiful soul of a man at 101 years young and one of the things I can offer her family in our grief are my words.
BFF’s family is like my other family and so I got to witness BFF’s relationship with her Grandpa all the time. Truly, this was one of the most precious relationships I have ever witnessed. BFF spent as much time as she could with her Grandpa, taking care of him when he was sick, sitting with him when he needed to have someone there, talking with him even if he tried to talk in Spanish (she doesn’t speak Spanish), and singing with him. It was obvious to me how much he meant to her and that she would drop everything if he needed anything at all. It never bothered her and she didn’t hesitate. She would just say “It’s Grandpa” with a shrug and a smile.
I was lucky enough to get to know Grandpa at family functions and by hanging out with BFF when she was taking care of him. He was a quiet man but if you asked him a question, be prepared for a long quite involved answer or story. I loved it when he would tell me stories about his past. I learned from these stories that he worked in a mine, rescued a cow from a well and that he was a sort of cattle rustler back in the day. Grandpa told me how he would look to see what cows were not branded and he would take those and brand them with his brand. When BFF and I exclaimed in shock, he shrugged and said “Well. They didn’t brand them so I did.” Yup. Cattle rustler. He even told us how when Grandma was mad at him, he would go out and sit in the shed till he felt he could come inside. I loved listening to these stories when he felt like telling them. What an amazing and full life he led.
One of my favorite things at family gatherings was watching BFF with her Grandpa. She would make him laugh and I really loved it when she would have him sing in Spanish. BFF would start singing and he would join right in, belting out songs one after another. He would throw things at her like an empty (or not) water-glass and she would tell him he threw like a girl, which would make him laugh. She took such great care of him and at the end was there. I got a text from her one night, near the end of his life, where she told me she was sitting in bed just holding hands with him as he slept. I wished I had been there to capture that moment for her. I tried every chance I could get to take pictures of her and Grandpa because their relationship was so precious. I learned how important a Grandpa is from her. I learned that a girl can be attached to her Grandpa and that he could become her world. You could tell when she talked about him how much he meant to her and how much she loved him. I once gave her a framed picture of her and Grandpa for her birthday and she told me it was the best present anyone could have given her.
Grandpa grew to have a special place in my own heart throughout the years. Once when I brought BFF lunch when she was sitting with him, he was already at the table eating and he looked up at me and said. “You are late. I am already eating.” Mind you, it was 11 am and I was right on time. I tried to say I was not late and he just chuckled to himself and said “Nope. Late.” Sometimes he remembered me by the fact that I was from Iowa. Sometimes it was by name (or as close as he could get which might have been Grandma’s name). I always took time to greet him, say goodbye and kiss his cheek, and grab his hand as I walked through the pew at church (even if he did accuse me of pinching him). I was lucky enough to help care for him at times and listen to those great stories. I was always on the lookout every trip to help BFF find the perfect Grandpa gift, whether it be playing cards, cookies, a ball cap or a personalized ornament from Disneyland. I gained a Grandpa over the years. I will miss that. I will miss him.
BFF…thank you for sharing your Grandpa with me. Thank you for allowing me to help care for him. Thank you for showing me how special of a relationship can be between a grandchild and their Grandpa. Thank you for sharing that wonderful man with me. Grandpa…thank you for always making me a part of the family. Even though you were not my biological Grandpa, you were the only Grandpa I ever knew and I miss you.
Oh yeah. I didn’t die today. Sometimes grief feels that way and all I can offer BFF are my words but I didn’t die. I am Fat Girl who learned what it is like to have a Grandpa through BFF Running. The experiment continues…