My grandfather passed away yesterday.  We’re definitely sad about it, but there’s a great sense of relief and thankfulness, too.  On thinking about it, we did the majority of our grieving a couple of years ago, and now it’s more like his “formal” passing. My grandfather had a massive stroke about 6 months before Nathan died.  Right after, we weren’t sure he would make it from one day to the next, and we would’ve had no idea he could live for another 2 years.  In any case, though he could minimally function right after the stroke, he slowly deteriorated from there.  He went from 300 lbs. to a mere 130, and didn’t really respond to us at all when we went to visit him.  Sometimes you look at someone and feel like they are jailed in their own body, and that’s definitely how we felt about my grandpa.  My grandfather loved, loved, LOVED to fish and I remember Nathan saying that what we really needed to do was take him out on one of his fishing boats for a last romp in the sun.  Of course, he was too fragile and his caretakers didn’t think it would be a good idea.  But when I think of what my grandpa must be doing right now…well, if there’s fishing in Heaven, he’s doing it.  Probably out with Nathan, actually.  Fishing in their boat, both telling stories for hours. My grandpa’s stories would be about old air force shenanigans, airplane, and childhood in the Depresson stories.  Nate’s would be about traveling around the world, facts about Oregon that no one believes (except maybe they do in Heaven since one probably can’t lie), and college shenanigans which his wife disapproved of.  Must be a fun fishing trip with stunning views.

My grandpa was definitely a family man.  Always inviting us over for dinner and feeding us massive meals.  Usually, to be more precise, lots of steak.  He got it on sale at Albertson’s or the Super Saver Market, and not only would he tell us for minutes about how good the deal on the meat was, he would have saved the advertisement from the paper where he found it.    Then we would dig in.  Always: thick steak- medium rare (the best steak I’ve ever eaten), mashed potatoes, fried okra, salad, and crescent rolls with sweet tea.  He would usually be tired after making steak and eating it, so he and the other men of the family would retire and watch fishing or football on TV while kids jumped on top of them.  My grandpa was infamous for giving us handshakes that crushed our hands, and punching us in the arm with his middle knuckle popping out so it hurt more.  You know, tough, manly love like that.  For all his toughness, he lived to see us grandkids, and I think we were his foremost thought most of the time.

My favorite memory with my grandpa was when he, my dad, and I went fishing about 5 or 6 years ago.  Somehow a minnow had got caught in the bilge water at the bottom of the boat, and I think I had been whimpering about being hungry or something, because my dad told me I should eat it.

“I would because I’m so hungry,” I replied.

“Okay, do it then,” dad said.

“How much will you pay me?” I was a poor college student, and was greatly motivated by money at this point.

Just then, my grandpa quietly pulled out a crisp $20 bill, and gave me a smirk as if he seriously doubted even this would fully motivate me for all my jabbering.

In my non-mathematical mind, even I could quickly figure that this was about 200 Ramen noodle meals.  So, I quickly reached down, picked the slimey fish up out of the brown water and swallowed it whole and alive.

“Uuugggghhh!” my dad said with a shiver. “I didn’t think you would actually do it!  I would NEVER do that.”

But my grandpa…well, who knows what my grandpa would’ve said, because he was laughing so hard we seriously thought he was going to have a heart attack.  He couldn’t speak and pulled out a tissue to wipe his tears from laughing so hard. The saga continued when the fish didn’t die for about 5 minutes, and I could eerily feel it swimming and flailing about in my stomach, which prompted intermittent uncontrollable laughter from grandpa in spurts throughout the day. Then we all started wondering if it was going to eat me from the intestines out, what it would look like when it came out, etc.  Ironically, when lunchtime finally came around, I didn’t feel that hungry after all.  Not with the fish still clinging quite ferociously to its thinning life thread in my bowels.

But my grandpa talked and laughed about it for years.  I think my eccentric toughness made him proud somehow.

In any case, I’m glad I’ll see him again, so thankful for our memories of him, that he lived a long, good life, and finally, that he’s Home.

Love you, grandpa.  We’ll still miss you.