The stories about Grandpa Roy… He was a character for sure; and I’d like to think my personality and desire for trouble was learnt from him.
There was the time he and his fishing buddies gave ~6th grade me a ride home to Roseau. Grandpa insisted on NO FARTING in the car; no dirty jokes; and when I called a bet for $20 and named Jackson as the president of the bill, I was accused of being a hustler for the next two hours!
Or the time we surprised him for something (his birthday? anniversary? no good reason?). All his kids, most of his grandkids, and his sister showing up in the backyard. I caught gramps shedding a tear of love/joy in the garage that day.
Or the time he was in the hospital getting cancer treatments and after visiting him, I went to his bar with my aunt Margie. The whole bar was slinging brandy waters in honor of Grandpa Roy and a quick recovery.
Or the time we sat around the kitchen table with an old photo book from the Korean War and grandpa explained how he was on the communications team that ran wires into the camps before the troops showed up.
After I turned 21, I could “go get the mail” with grandpa. This was code for getting-out-of-crazy-family-holidays-for-a-few-minutes-to-grab-a-quiet-drink. If you know my family, you know what a treat this is.
It was also amazing to watch him care for my ailing grandmother. Such a burley and tough exterior, but a teddy bear of a man underneath. Grandma would crochet on her chair, and grandpa would watch from his chair – untangling the yarn, or telling her when she messed up. He would cook her food and insist she eats it. He prepared her medications. He was attentive.
And he loved his children… Yes, he was my mom’s dad. But in many ways, he was my dad’s dad, too. And I love him for that.
He left us with no warning. We didn’t expect his departure. No one made that last call. No one said that last goodbye. Aunt Bev didn’t get to deliver the lemon cookies she just bought for him at Costco, knowing he would love them. He lived completely until his last day and left without warning.
We are stung. But seeing a suffering death way too often – seeing the years of heartache a slow death can cause; part of me can’t help but smile that he ended his life quickly and eloquently. This is the dream. This is how I want to go. This is how he would have wanted to go. So I’ll keep the pain of not getting my goodbye to myself. The pain of not getting another year. Instead, I’ll be happy that his ending was quick. See you in the ice fishing shack in Heaven, good man. Love you, gramps.