I usually start out a blog by giving it a title. Sometimes the title I start with, isn’t the title I stick with, sometimes while I write there’s a better title. But in this particular situation, I’m stuck without a title.
It’s just been a hard 2 weeks. Everything seemed to be going into place. I was happy, work was going okay, friends were good, family was good, or so I thought. About a month and a half ago my grandpa went into the hospital for 2 weeks and battled his way out. He stayed with one of his daughters for a few weeks and then suddenly went back in. My mom had been gone for 2 weeks while he was sick the first time, and now she was leaving again.
She got there and called to say he wasn’t doing good at all. My heart sunk. He was the kind of grandfather where I would only see him once, MAYBE two times a year. Always sent birthday cards with a $20 bill. But every time I would see him, we would pick up where we left off. Had inside jokes, did things only him and I did, talked about what it was like for him to be in the military, my future, etc. For example, anytime we went to IHop, Cracker Barrel, or any place like that, we would get biscuits and gravy and call each other. I don’t know about him, but I would really never eat Oreos unless I was with him. For my high school graduation, for my gift he gave me $100 and a pack of Oreos.
But all of a sudden within this past year and a half, we’ve seen him more than I have in my 20 years of life. He came to my graduation, he came up to our house a few times just to visit, shoot he even went on vacation with us this past June to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This past year and a half was really really good. We really grew in our relationship and our bond was really tight. So when we heard he was suddenly back in the hospital, all these memories and thoughts ran through my head.
“Nah man he’s gonna pull through just like the last time” I would tell myself. “He’s a fighter!! He’s a Marine!”. Over and over again in my mind. It was like a record player. It got to the point where my anxiety was so bad about my grandfather that I couldn’t eat, I was staying up all night and sleeping a few hours from like 7:00am-10 or 11:00am. And that was for like 3 days. Thank God I didn’t have to work. By the time my mom called telling us he had passed away I was exhausted. I went to sleep at 6:00am and my dad woke me up at 7:30am telling me he went at 6:30. I didn’t go back to sleep till 10. Memories filled my head. All the cards he sent me, all the times we laughed by his camper, all the times we had a blast in Wisconsin.
It’s sorta, maybe, ( not really ), funny but the night before he passed away I was terrified and wanted to say goodbye but I would have never made it before he went. Someone told me to call my mom and even though he wouldn’t talk back, he could hear me and I could tell him things. I went to mass and I had this gut wrenching feeling that he didn’t have much time left, so I walked out of church, sat in my car for a while, and called my mom. She answered the phone and with tears in my eyes I said “I wanna talk to Grandpa” she said okay hold on. She said “Dad! It’s Hayley! She wants to talk to you!!” She put the phone to his ear and said okay talk. I said “Hey Grandpa! It’s Hayley! I just wanted to tell you I love you so much and I need you to watch over me. It’s okay to go, Grandpa, we will be okay. I love you” My mom took the phone away, asked if I was done, I said yeah and she said they were going to eat dinner so we hung up.
Not even 12 hours later, he passed away. Maybe that’s what he needed to hear. That we’d be okay. After his passing, I had some pictures and thought it would be fun to make a video to share and look at whenever I’m missing him. I didn’t have as many pictures as I thought I did, so I asked family members and my aunt even asked if we could use it for the service. So it became a big deal. There were a couple things I learned about my grandpa while making the video! He had a great sense of humor, he was not afraid to make a silly face or to take out his teeth and have someone take a picture. He loved his family, there are very few pictures ( where he’s not in the Marine Corps ) that he’s alone, he’s always with his children, siblings, grandchildren or friends. He had the most gorgeous smile, though his teeth weren’t real due to a bungee cord accident, the shape of his smile and the way his fake teeth were so perfect made his smile contagious, even before the fake teeth his smile and teeth were perfect. He took pride in his achievements with the Marine Corps, he was a drill instructor and was very strict and that’s what made him Grandpa.
It crazy to think that family has come together to support and for people too lean on in this difficult time. It’s also weird to think that I won’t see him smile anymore, I won’t hear his laugh anymore, I won’t smell the cigarette smoke on him anymore, I won’t sit out by his camper with him talking about college and what I’m gonna do with my life, I’m not gonna be able to eat Oreos with him, I’m not gonna be able to get biscuits and gravy and call him immediately, I’m not gonna be able to call him on Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Easter, his birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving. I’m not gonna be able to call him and him brag about how wonderful the weather is in Florida while we were up north freezing our asses off. I won’t get to hear his stories or raspy voice anymore, I won’t get to see him anymore. It’s heartbreaking.
This was a big eye opener and I realized you never know when your ticket will be pulled. It could be today, tonight, tomorrow, a week from now or maybe even 5 years from now. You never know. There’s usually no signs, and it’ll be when nobody is ready for it to happen. And maybe you, yourself, aren’t ready for it. It just happens. So thank you Grandpa, for teaching me that life is short and to life like the world is gonna end, thank you for teaching me about the Marine Corps, thank you for teaching me to stand up for myself when others are wrong, thank you for giving me laughs and smiles, and thanks for a fantastic year and a half. I miss you lots. ( Oh and btw Grandpa, thanks for the warm quilt and blue rosary! I have them near me wherever I go ).
“Semper Fidelis” ( always faithful in Latin )
Love ya, Grandpa.