I was sitting at my desk at 7:15 in the morning on a cold winter day in February of 2011 when my cell phone rang. The caller ID said “Mom”. The dreadful phone call I was expecting just became a reality. I knew what it was for. I said “Hello”, not wanting to hear what she had to say, but knowing I had to hear it. Then Mom said, “Hi Craig”, followed by “About an hour ago Grandpa went to heaven.”
A few days before this I was able to talk to my grandpa on the telephone and say my goodbyes. It wasn’t the best conversation, but he was able to muster up enough strength to say a few words and to say that he would see me in heaven someday. I know his passing away would be in the near future, but I just didn’t know when. Even though his body was breaking down daily and he was in and out of the hospital a lot during those last months, he was a fighter, and wasn’t ready to go quite yet. He wanted to live to a ripe old age. But finally, after saying goodbyes to all his grandkids, children, and wife, he told his Father that he was ready to come home. The fight was over and at 6:30am on February 28 he was home for good.
Today marks the five year anniversary of the death of a man that is very dear to my heart – my grandpa. My grandpa was a young 79 when he passed away. He stayed active as long as he could, always on the go, and always willing to lend a hand. He retired three times because he loved to work. Every time he thought he was finished working, he went back for more. He was a helper, a teacher, and a friend to hundreds of people. He was loved by many and he loved many, no matter their age, religion or race. He had friends of all walks of life. God was #1 in his life, and after God, he always put his family before himself.
Grandpa was truly a role model to me….one who I looked up to and even today want to model my life after. The memories I have of him will never be forgotten.
He taught me how to shoot a rifle, field dress a deer, and water ski. He convinced me to continue to play water polo after I wanted to quit my sophomore year. He attended countless numbers of my basketball, baseball, and water polo games, along with my high school and college graduation ceremonies. Christmas with him was special – all the grandkids getting their height measured, pictures in the same place every year in the exact same order, calendars we always received from him that he chose especially for us, and his favorite line “anyone got a knife?” I’ll never forget the all-you-can-eat shrimp platters at the North Shore restaurant at the Lake. He showed me how to eat oysters, and we all remember the pontoon boat rides on the Lake that put us all to sleep. Attending Cardinal baseball games, hunter safety classes, hunting trips and playing golf were always good times with him. I will always remember the summer I worked construction for him at West County Mall, as well as all the work days he organized at his own house on Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Yes, he was the boss, and we all knew it! He taught me how to hold a cue stick and shoot pool. And he sure did love those scratch off tickets! Free meals at restaurants; need I say more? HA! These are just a few memories I have of him, with hundreds more engraved in my mind forever of this great man.
My grandpa never knew what the word QUIT meant. Even into his 70’s, he would still do the same things as he did when he was 30….or at least gave it his best shot. He even water-skied after he had two knee replacements. He would never stop a task until it was finished to perfection. He set the bar high in our family, and settled for nothing but the best in everything he did. He was a giver, an inspirer, and an encourager. He was an uplifter, a leader, and a witness. He was truly a man that pleased many, especially God.
If my Grandpa saw me in prison today, I know he would be disappointed in me. I would have hurt him tremendously with me being his oldest grandson. But I also know that he would be very forgiving and would never ever stop loving me. He truly was an amazing man – a loving father, husband, and grandpa, and for this I would trade nothing for. There are many days that go by when I miss him and think about him. But I do know he is in good hands, and most definitely free from ALL the pain he was in. And one day, I’ll be again reunited with him in heaven, and this time forever.
I love and miss you, Grandpa!