Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Last of All Days

Today is the 10 year anniversary since we lost my Grandpa to pancreatic cancer.  I can't believe it's been that long.  He was truly one of those people that lived life to the fullest doing the things he loved to do.  He loved amusement parks and every year he would take me and eventually me and a friend on a road trip to ride the roller coasters.  He'd be the first one running back in line and say "wanna go again?"  He had a great sense of humor, did what he wanted when he wanted, traveled to the places he wanted to go (which weren't necessarily exotic but it's where he wanted to be) and loved his hobby of restoring old cars.  He would travel around to car shows and show off his latest restoration.  My favorite was his 1920's fire engine.  He used to be a firefighter so that thing was his pride and joy.  I used to dress up as a clown in parades and ride on it with him.  He beamed with pride when he drove it around. 

When he got sick, I knew his time was limited...it always is with this disease.  It's sad how it takes something as heartwrenching as a disease to make you say the important things to people you never say.  When we celebrated his last birthday with him at the beginning of March 2001, I decided the best birthday gift I could give him was a letter telling him how much he meant to me and all of the fond memories I had with him.  He read it when he got home and apparently would rave about it to anyone who would listen.  He couldn't believe some of the things I remembered.  He asked his wife if she would ask me to read it as his eulogy and I did.  I altered it to 3rd person and basically kept it the same except for a few small things.  I read it in front of a standing room only chapel full of 150+ people and had them in laughter and tears.  I remember how intently my mom and two aunts were staring at me from the front row holding hands...in awe I could get through it without crying.  It was easy when I was sharing memories like him taking me to buy my first junker car, going to amusement parks and telling racy jokes around me for the first time.  Now when I was done, that was another story but I got through it...to honor him.  I think that was probably one of the top 5 proudest moments of my life.

When I think of how much life I wasted hiding away from the world and experiences because of my weight, I get very sad.  I think of how he would've given anything to have those extra days while I squandered them taking for granted that there would be another one tomorrow when that's not promised to any of us.  I ask him for forgiveness for my ignorance at that time and promise that I will try to live my life more like he did, doing the things we love to do even if it's not popular with everyone.  It's hard not to take life for granted but if you can remember those you've lost and what they would give to have the opportunity to live one more day...a day that isn't necessarily a special occasion and is without fanfare.  A day like today...like tomorrow.  When I lose sight of that, I try to remember this song that helped me get through Grandpa's disease...The Last Day by Marilyn Scott.  If that song doesn't change your outlook on life, nothing will.  But it wouldn't be a proper tribute to Grandpa without playing his favorite song My Ding-a-Ling by Chuck Berry.

I love you Grandpa...




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8 comments:

  1. What a lovely tribute to your grandpa and a reminder that all our days really must count, no matter what they hold. I had an Uncle that was more like the dad I always wanted, and he was so uncomfortable with emotions but I made sure he knew how I felt about him. He was diabetic and didn't take care of it, and it killed him. Since I'm now diabetic, that is at least the one thing I focus on making sure I take care of, and I always think of him and the times we've missed. Beautiful blog, Mrs. Hugs.

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  2. What a wonderful blog. I am so in awe of how you could take such special memories, hold them true to you, and also use them to propel you forward! I know in most senses that has been the biggest gift of my weight loss is learning that we need and can live life everyday the way we want to. If I can lose the weight I have and will, then I sure as heck can live to enjoy my--MY--life, not anyone else's idea of what is proper or correct. I want that joy!

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  3. What an awesome tribute to your grandpa and what an honor for you to have stood up for him in front of such a crowd of people. Brave indeed. I am sure he is so proud of the progress you have made in your life and is smiling down on you.

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  4. Your post had me thinking about my own grandpa and how special he was to me and how all the grandkids sang his favorite church song at the funeral and how it was just so perfect. If I even hear a harmonica (something he played quite well and often!) it just warms my heart and I know he is proud of who I am.

    Thanks for taking me down my own memory lane and thanks for the reminder! Life is precious!!!

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  5. Thank you for sharing about your Grandpa. I will be thinking of you two today. He was a very special man, and I do believe he :is: still with you, in your heart and soul - encouraging you still.
    Beautiful blog, honoring his memory and continued, positive influences on you! Hugs to you today, Mrs.

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  6. How incredibly sweet! What a great tribute to a man you obviously loved so much and made you the amazing woman you are today. Now you get the chance to live like him and as long at you don't go back to the way you were that is all that matters. I think your grandpa would be rather proud how you and the MR are living your lives and doing the things you love to do.

    Thanks for sharing and a big old hug to you!

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  7. Awesome tribute to someone who must have been a fine man.

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