The late great John Lennon penned the phrase, "life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." This quote has always been a personal favorite, but in the last five days it has brought on new meaning. Very powerful meaning.
Today my maternal grandfather went to heaven. He's been sick for a lot of years, but tough as nails and lived through multiple heart attacks, Cancer, diabetes and the list goes on and on. But, when it was time to go and he knew it, it happened fast and for that I am grateful.
When I drove away from my house on Friday the 13th, I had no idea what was about to happen. As far as I was concerned I was off to have a 4-day play weekend with my bestie and her family and we were going to craft and eat bacon. Friday night I received word that the end was near for our Granddad. We had family council via Skype (VERY normal for my fam) and we decided that we would hold tight on gathering because he was given 4-6 weeks. I was out of town on mini vacay, my SIL is about to give birth and my BIL was in a show here in Ogden. 24 hours passed and all was well. Granddad came home, was communicating with his family and we all settled in to the wait. Saturday I started to go into crazy brain mourning mode. I'm a spaz, especially without enough information and I felt this limbo and uneasiness that I couldn't shake. I went to bed so sad on Saturday and tried to sleep. Sunday morning I woke up to an email from my mother that said something to the effect of "come sooner than later." Well awesome. Here I was on a mini-vacay and she was telling me this. To add to it this is my BUSIEST week for personal and professional reasons. I started to get really worked up and sad again. I laid in bed and decided to cancel my crazy day (Wednesday) and plan to go on Tueaday after some important work appointments in Idaho Falls. Jo always makes me bacon and amazing breakfast at some point so I went upstairs and had a hearty feast. As you know from previous posts, I nap and then cope. Such was the case this morning. I told her, I couldn't do church because I needed to nap and game plan. She was very understanding, as always, and I went back down to the cave... I mean guest bedroom and crawled back in bed to sleep on it.
As soon as I woke I up I felt like I should at least get dressed for the last hour of church and meet Jo to help her teach her kiddies class. I made a call to my sister and then a text landed on my phone from my aunt. Things aren't good. You better come quicker. What? When did this happen? I JUST got an email from my mom THREE hours ago! I called her and panic set it. Suddenly NOTHING else mattered (cue the Metallica classic) and I needed to pack, gas up and GO. In my frenzy to get ready for church, I realized I had forgot to brush my teeth because, well, said toothbrush was chillin in my purse pocket. Smooth, Raylynn, smooth. Thank goodness for gum in all sorts of places in my car.
As soon as I was in my car listening to "happy music" the water works started. I thought, "ok, this is it. This is what you need. Cry it out because you are the oldest grandchild and the rock." That went on for four hours as I sped across the state listening to tunes and trying to sing myself some comfort and cry it out as much as possible.
Upon arriving at my grandma's I found more joy than I expected...wait! Who am I kidding? We are a music-loving, food-in-mass-quantities eating family. Of course there was joy! I went into my granddad's room and my heart sunk. Here he was. He couldn't talk, but had enough gumption to sit up and stay sitting up. I sat next to him and talked. He's always the one who insists we call when we are traveling to and from his house. I felt like I should tell him I made it safe and that the weather was perfect. I felt like I should tell him that I cancelled my whole life to be sitting next to him. I held his hand. I felt his pulse and when he was on the phone with his cousin he squeezed my hand. My heart ached already. He knew it was me and I knew it. I didn't go to bed until 130 that night because A. I was super caffeinated and B. I was super worked up with my reality. My aunt and I talked it out and finally both went to bed at 2. Yesterday we spent the entire day together. As soon as my mom arrived I knew that my granddad would start to let go. She's his only daughter and the oldest and subconsciously when she showed up, there was order.
Finally at about 4, I felt like it was my turn to really have my moment with my sweet granddad man and document it. We are a genealogy family and I wanted this memory preserved for my future babes. He was miraculously more responsive so I went in. I took his hand and had a conversation along with my grandma and uncle. I would share that photo, but it is so private and special. My heart knew that he knew that it was me. I sat there for a long time. Later that evening we sang hymns to him and at that point I knew that I had been inspired to sing what I sang to help him calm down and get ready. My kiddo cousins were all so brave and openly mourned and cried a lot. I did not. I cried in private. I couldn't fall apart while they were. Mamma bear instincts in full force with my little flock of cuties.
This morning I laid in bed knowing he was going to leave us today. I drove to their house and when I saw him he looked completely different than twelve hours before. I gave my final kiss and "good bye, I love you" and walked away. As I was leaving, my incredible grandma hugged me and said, "your granddad was always so proud of all his grandkids. You started that. He was proud of you first."
The level of sadness is high. I am one of the many grandkids who is named after him. I have such random fond memories of going to visit on the farm. It was never about fancy, always about family. He called me honey and said I love you and was a guardian of great magnitude if we were on the road going to or from his house. He taught me that a good man is one who works hard and always kisses his sweetheart, especially after family prayer. He was crusty and grumpy at times, but he was our granddad and we absolutely adored him. Tonight I shared the following on Facebook, "One of my fondest memories as a kid was having ice cream for dinner with my grandparents while my parents were on a date night. It was August so granddad's garden was in full harvest so he and my grandma had fresh tomatoes and we had Schwan's ice cream which was ALWAYS on hand. I was maybe 10 & I still remember how special it made me feel that they let us be hooligan kids and just eat ice cream."
I am so sad to have him gone, but I know he is happier and painless. That is all that matters. My tear ducts needed a good flush anyway and they got it. I am also sad that I had to cancel plans for things that last week mattered most. The concert and the Oscars party are oh so trivial compared to the opportunity I've had to bond with family and hold his hand and say "I love you" just one last time.
The moral of the story: what happens when we are making other plans is usually a big fat sign from above that it is time to remember our priorities and who matters most. The fluff can wait.
Until next time, my lovelies.