(This was the speech I gave at my Grandpa Howard's funeral)
Being surrounded by family, some of whom I barely know, these past couple days made we want to share with you the grandpa I knew, the man I grew up with.
Grandpa's love language was time... and so is mine which is why I guess we got along so well.
I just liked to be with him and he knew it. Summers as a kid meant visiting him in the garden, pulling weeds or picking fruit & veggies.
I went for long walks with grandpa. I rarely walked with grandma, Andrea did that, because she was always a 100 yards or so ahead of us.
We spent a lot of time in easy silence or quiet chatting. I wasn't one to ramble on and neither was he.
I always loved to go to Grandpa's house because it was easy... it was more like a second home
I spent a lot of days there after school between classes and practice or games.
We had a routine, Grandpa and I...
Grandma usually had dinner on the table shortly after I got "home" from school. We'd sit down and eat together, so "My food had time to digest before the game," Grandma would say. I'd start cleaning up and grandma would tell me to she could do it, so I could go up and rest. Grandpa and I would head upstairs... me in the bed and him in the recliner. We'd chat until one or both of us drifted off to sleep.
Those are the days I remember most...
We talked about everything and nothing
Grandpa & Grandma would come to my games. He would even get uncharacteristically loud if I was getting pushed around. He was a bit protective :)
He liked to talk about the things he was reading in the National Geographic or Sunday's sermon.
He loved Jesus
Although I know the past year has been difficult on Auntie Jan and Grandma as they have shouldered the burden of the extra care, but for me these past few months have been a gift. These times with grandpa were stolen time I didn't think we'd have and more glimpses into his heart. He chose his words more because they didn't come as easy as they used to. He didn't waste a lot of words either. He stilled played with the girls even though he couldn't get up and tend to them like he used to. I remember Grandma saying that Annabelle wore him out chasing after her a few years back. Grandpa was they player. MaryAlice, my three year old, would talk about Grandpa Owie. She loved to come and visit. She'd say, "Grandpa Howard goes (head shake and sound effects) when I kiss him." or she would ask him to help her take out her teeth as she was trying desperately to copy him taking his out. My girls love grandpa too... just like their mom. Not many people are so fortunate as I am to have grown up with my grandparents, but my girls have known their great grandparents. Grandpa Howard and Grandma Shirley have given us the gift of a legacy of love. Being married for almost 65 years is a treasure and a gift to us. Their love and devotion to each other will forever impact my life and generations to follow.
He would talk about the things that really matter...
About a few weeks ago when he fell and went back into the hospital I had my last conversation with him. I got home and wept as I recounted Grandpa's words that day. He was saying goodbye. Grandma & I were sitting by his bed after a walk down the hallway with "Little Mary" (as he called MaryAlice). He reached up and cradled Grandma's face in his hand and said, "I love you... with all my heart. You're so good to me & I love you." He held my hand tight and told me how much he loved me too and how proud he was of me. I will always strive to be the woman he saw in me.
People say the real you comes out toward the end. Some get cranky and let out all the crud they've bundled up inside throughout the years, but for the most part Grandpa would smile at each person who attended him and thank them.
I don't know much about the Grandpa you remember, but you can be sure he loved all of you very much. He talked about you all the time. He would give us updates on you and your kids as if you lived next door.
We got regular updates on Jay & Alex's games,
Amanda's two boys,
Where Ryan was working and how the kids liked their new school,
How Aaron's boys liked and hated the removal of Grandpa's teeth,
Where Ashely was moving and what job she was doing,
How well Sheena is doing at her job and what she was cooking,
Where in the world Bruce, Mary and Ben were working,
Keith and Judy were speaking or singing,
and what delectable treat Jan had made them in the fridge!
Rest assure he was so proud of all of you and loved you very much!
Up until Wednesday he always recognized me, woke up and smiled. On Wednesday we saw what was in his heart more than what he could say. He couldn't talk or interact at all. His eyes would flutter as he drifted in and out of sleep... But for one moment he got out a few words of "Because He Lives" in his sleep
There hasn't been a time that I've visited in the past six months where he didn't want to sing that song. The peace that he had came from knowing that this earth was not his home. He knew that to be absent from his body meant to be present with his Jesus. He had the peace that passes all understanding.
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