Last week or was that a week and a half ago......anyway, driving to Carson City, NV, for my grandfather's funeral, we made many pit stops. At one point a family member we were traveling with threatened to put her 30 year old husband in Depends. Truthfully, it was those under the age of 8 that we stopped for the most. As we are rolling into the rest area at the Salt Flats, the little Jamaican looks around and asks with all the excitement of Christmas morning, "Are we in Mexico?" I have never been to Mexico, but this is not what I expect it to look like, but to the Little Jamaican, it might as well have been. This part of Interstate 80 is about the most boring stretch of road ever. That is unless you get out, walk around in the salt, taste it if you are one of my Sea Monkeys, which the Wild Child emphatically exclaimed, "It's just like real salt!", or desperately need a restroom and have just found one.
So these thoughts starting flowing about the time I had no time to share them. I am frantically trying to get everything ready so that we can leave Friday morning for my grandpa's funeral. But, since the thoughts are here I will find some time when I should be sleeping to make up for the time I am spending now to write down my thoughts.
My first memory of my grandparents is at their home in South Lake Tahoe. If you have never been to Tahoe, you owe it to yourself to go at least once in your life. To me it is heaven. On the occasions I was permitted to stay with my grandparents for a few nights, I would get to sleep between them in their bed. (There were never any monsters in Grandma and Grandpa's bed.) I remember how the carpet smelled in their house. Is that weird? I remember celebrating Christmas in their house. The snow and the hill in the backyard was perfect for sledding. I can still see my grandma hanging out her clothes to dry on a line that was on a pulley that went from the eaves of the house to the other side of the yard. She would stand there and hang one article of clothing at a time, pulling the line to make room for the next. My grandma was a bit of a neat freak, but she never made you feel unwelcome because of it. You know how things like pillows shift when you sit on a couch? Well when you got up she would straighten them when you weren't looking. You would have to be sneaky if you wanted to catch her doing it. When we would first arrive at my grandparents, my grandpa would pick us up and hug us so tight that I was sure he loved me more than anyone else loved me. He could hug so tight that sometimes I thought it would be OK if he loved me a tiny bit less.
Some years later my grandparents moved to Carson City, Nevada, which was great since that is where we lived at the time. Grandparents closer is always good. I remember sitting at the bar in my grandma's kitchen while she cooked us "noodle soup" for lunch, aka Top Ramen. I loved that stuff as a kid. When the soup was too hot, she would pour a little cold water in the soup to help it cool. Well one day we must have had her a little frazzled because when my sister said hers was too hot, grandma poured a little milk in my sister's soup. Grandma was clearly annoyed at what she had done, but my sister didn't care. She ate it anyway. Not long after that we learned that my grandma had cancer.
I know that my grandfather spent his life savings trying to save his wife. There was never any question about how grandpa felt about grandma. So much so that when my grandma's health started to really decline, the nurse who cared for my grandma commented that she wished someone would love her even half as much as my grandpa loved my grandma. My grandma knew she was going to die. She would say, "I don't know what the Lord has planned for me, but I wish he would just get on with it." My grandma died shortly after my eighth birthday. I still miss her almost 30 years later. Before she died, she had a "heart-to-heart" with my grandpa that no wife ever wants to have with her husband. Grandma knew that Grandpa needed a wife or he would be miserable and difficult to deal with and she told him so. As they were having this conversation she expressed to him that she wanted him to re-marry and that she thought he should marry the nurse that cared for her. Now I ask you......Could you do that? I love my husband fiercely and I would want him to be happy......I just don't know if I could know who she was or pick her out. OK, truthfully, I don't know if I can really stand the thought of him being married to anybody but me, but the Rocket Scientist would have to re-marry too. Months after my grandma passed away, my grandpa married my Grandma Carma. She was the nurse that cared for my grandma.
One of the coolest things about gaining another grandma was that I gained two more aunts and an uncle. (Grandma Carma's children from another marriage.) Something that I have always been thankful for. It honestly felt like more people to love and more people to love me. When I was twelve, we moved away from Carson City, but through the years we have visited often.
When my grandpa passed away a little over week ago I felt like I knew him better in his last days here with us than I did before. Funny how someone all of your life has been "framed" one way. To me he was just Grandpa. As I looked at his large frame in what seemed like a tiny hospital bed, I realized for the first time, he was a lot more than Grandpa. He was the son of Swedish immigrants, a brother (number two of five children) , a father of seven children and a husband. He was a business owner, a friend, and a man with dreams, goals, failures, and accomplishments. I also learned there was more to his sense of humor than I knew most of my life. For instance, my grandpa loved caffeine-free Diet Coke and chocolate chip cookies. In fact I have heard it said that he was the original Cookie Monster. I am certain for the last couple of years that he has tried to sustain his life on this particular diet, though there were many that tried to convince him to eat things that were better for him. When my grandpa knew he was going to die in a few days, my Grandma Carma asked him if he thought there would be Diet Coke in heaven. His reply was "Nooooo!" Grandma Carma then asked, "Then what will you drink, Ed?" His quick as a whip reply was, "I'll just drink water."
I have more stories about my grandpa I will share in following posts, but for now, it's back to laundry and getting ready to get out of town. Thanks for listening......
I have had blog material flying at me. I have had things I have desperately needed, wanted to record so that I would have it to look back at and chuckle. Yet.....you have all heard nothing from me. Even if I don't get out here what I want to share, I will for go sleep to hear what you, my trusted bloggy friends have to say. So why the absence?
Here is my excuse:
To whom it may concern:Please excuse Karen for neglecting her blog and yours for the past couple of weeks. Her grandfather recently passed away and she has felt she needed to write a post about him and his life before she did any more blogging. This has turned out to be more difficult than she would have expected. She had no idea that she would miss him so much or have such difficulty expressing her thoughts and feelings and organizing the facts.Sincerely,Karen's Self-defense Department.
I have come to realize a few things about me. Anything I put in this blog is here because I don't want to forget. I also care that you read it or want to read it. I shouldn't care, but I think if it isn't something you want to read.....how will I ever be able to get my posterity to be interested in what my life was. These thoughts also bring me to want to make sure all my facts are straight. (Especially in regards to my grandpa.) I suppose I think of this blog as my journal and one day plan to publish it at Blurb or something like that so that one day my when I leave this earth, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will know who I was. They will know what I cared about. They will know that my life was not perfect, but that in time most pain fades and love remains.
So if you made it through all that.....I am working on a post about my sweet grandpa that will make you smile. Until I get it finished, this is what I heard from the Wild Child and the 1st One today:
1st One: Mom, Wild Child has lotion all over her bed rails. Me: (Raise eyebrow.) Wild Child: Dad said I could. It's so that bad guy won't be able to steal me. Me: (Shaking my head) 1st One: (Starts helping the Wild Child put more lotion on the side rails of the loft bed.) Me: (Thinking, why didn't I think of that.)