Living in Circles

February 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Family, Giggles, Lollipop | 12 Comments

Four years ago tomorrow, my grandfather died. On the same day my doctor confirmed I was pregnant with Lollipop. Death and life, they’re so often intertwined, aren’t they?

And although the circle of life that Lollipop and Giggles are traveling will never intersect with his, I want them to know they are connected. To him, with him, through me.

I want them to know he was nicknamed “Red.” Because of his hair. When someone called asking for “Red” on the telephone once, I told the man he had the wrong number. Because “Red” was just “Grandpa” to me.

I want them to know he taught me to count. By sharing spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream on the kitchen floor.

I want them to know he never had the opportunity to graduate from high school. The family farm needed him. He was always ashamed of this, a little. To me, he knew everything.

I want them to know he was a domino wizard. He could see your hand without seeing it. Even when Alzheimer’s robbed him of the ability to remember whether it was Tuesday or Friday, he knew you had the double six. And there was no way you were gonna make 15 with it.

I want them to know he put together my first bike and taught me to ride it. Without training wheels.

I want them to know he helped my grandmother through two stillbirths. A boy and a girl. He chose their tiny caskets, planned their funerals, put them in the ground. And kept living, somehow.

I want them to know he and three of his brothers went off to war, one in Europe, three in the Pacific. By the sweet grace of God, or maybe fate, they all came home. Safe.

I want them to know he worked hard, with his hands, all his life. In the fields, on the oil rigs, and as a carpenter to make a decent living for his family. His one regret: he could never be home as much as he yearned to be.

I want them to know he loved Reader’s Digest. Especially the jokes.

I want them to know he looks after us, still. I feel his presence sometimes, like a warm quilt or a cool glass of buttermilk. At least, I think I do. And whether it’s real or imagined, it makes me happy.

Most of all, I want them to know that his integrity, his passion, his grit — it’s in me, too. And in them. Sometimes, it’s hard to see, to muster. Sometimes, it’s easy to ignore, to overlook.

But it’s there. Unbroken. A circle.



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  1. What a thoughtful, moving post. Simply beautiful, and a touching tribute to a great man.

  2. Ok…the tears trickle down my cheeks as I read your memories of your Grandpa and it reminds me of my Dad.

  3. Oh this touched my heart today! Thanks for sharing all these wonderful memories you have!

  4. This gave me chills… He sounds like a lovely man to have as a grandfather. Your children are lucky to have your memories.

  5. Dang but I miss him. As a little child, I remember him reading the comics in the Sunday paper…in this complete monotone…but he read every one of them to me. Thanks for reminding me he was the best daddy!

  6. What lovely memories to share with your kids! (And us.) You should print this post, just so you’ll always have a tangible written reminder and tribute to your grandpa.

  7. What a beautiful post! Your grandpa sounds like an amazing man. We are all what we are because of those that came before us. It is a wonderful thing you do, passing his memory along to your children.

  8. What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your grandfather with us.

  9. It’s hard to make sure that our kids understand the entire circle of family and connections. So many people have come before us and loved them before they were born…

  10. That’s beautiful. He sounds like he was a wonderful Grandpa!

  11. This is really beautiful. It brought to mind my own Grandfather. Thank you for that.

  12. This was beautiful. My grandparents, unfortunately, died before I really knew them all that well.

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