To my three dear Grandfathers,
I wish we all had more time together.
The three of you were, in many ways, completely different. But you also created a combined balance. Altogether, you created the perfect Grandfather. I lost each of you at very different points in my life. One out of the blue. One a long time coming. One somewhere in the middle of the two. No matter how long or how short our time was together, each of you taught me so much about family, friends, life, and passion. This is for you.
To Paw Paw,
I lost you first. To a stroke. I was in the second grade. Or maybe third. I didn't cry. I, for some reason, didn't have a grand emotional response to your death. All I can do is assume it was because of my age. My lack of life experience. Something. Nonetheless, I missed you terribly. I still do. I still hold the memories I have of you very close to me, especially at Christmas time. Your love for your family. Your love of Christmas. Always needing a great, big Christmas tree. Your Santa hat for handing out presents. The way you and I would make popcorn -- you all decked out in an apron and chef's hat, filling the pan to the brim so the top would always pop off. Your larger than life personality and wonderful knack for conversation. I wish we had more time together. I wish I could have known you better. I wish you could see who I have become, and have yet to become. But, I know that I will see you again, one day. I hope you'll have the popcorn ready for me.
You were the second to leave. Lung cancer. You died on your birthday and the same year as your son. As sad as it is, I feel that you and I were never the closest. Or at least, we weren't close in the "normal" way. Leslie thinks it's because you didn't know how to communicate with me. Because I was "smart". Because I didn't play sports. I wasn't what you were used to. I wasn't my dad. Regardless, we did have some fun times. You, me, and dad. Football and baseball games. Playing catch and baseball in the backyard. Me sitting with you in your room while you watched MASH and played online poker. When we looked at baseball cards and collected coins. You coming to my shows. And I always made sure to hug you goodbye before I left dad's house. We didn't really say, "I love you" until dad died… but that's okay. I miss your cooking. No one makes potato soup as good as yours. I wish I could have seen your classic cars when you had them. I wish we could have talked more about Vietnam. I wish I could have known more about your life. I just wish I could have known… you. I think I'll get to do that one day, but for now, I'll need to ask other people. Which is okay. No matter what Grandpa, no matter what folks have said, you were a good man. With a good heart. And I love you for that.
You were my last Grandfather to leave, but you were the first one I met. At least, in my memories. As far back as I can remember, I remember you first. The trips to Meme and Pappy's house. Our bond was deep. We were connected from day one. I watched you go from a vibrant, lively, excited Grandfather, to simply a shell. A watched you have a life full of family, hunting, camping, and fishing, and I watched you slowly wither away behind an oxygen tank. Your death was a long time coming, and it hit us hard, but it didn't come unexpectedly. One night, you sat me down for a talk. You said you wouldn't be around much longer. You told me, as you had always told me, to remember God. To be good, as I had always been. I think, in many ways, that night was the beginning of the end.
You were a good man, Pap. I know now that you were not always so nice. So good. I have had many thoughts about that. How much you changed. Maybe that's why you read the Bible so much. Maybe that's why you always cried when you said the blessing. You were you scared? Or were you overflowing with thankfulness? Or... was it both?
I will always remember our hunting, camping, and fishing trips. Our times in West Virginia. Our talks about fixing things, building things, the Bible, birds, and other animals. Watching you sit in your chair out on the porch, looking out the window, seeing what birds and squirrels you could see for hours on end. Your workshop. The time we made a birdhouse. And… there are so many to count. Even now as I sit here and type this out, it tires me so much to sift through all of them. And… it hurts a little, still. You taught me so much, Pap. About things, yes, but also about love and life. So many lessons. I miss you greatly. I am happy that you are out of pain now, breathing celestial air, without a tank, without all the medicine, and without all the coughing. In peace. I hope that I have, and will continue to make you proud. McKenna will always be "Pappy's little Love-Bug". I will always be your "little man".
My Grandfathers, I love and miss you all.