Last night after I wrote my post about my Grandpa “Cookie”, so many more memories were filling my head as I tried to bounce between monitoring some chats at work and ultimately trying to drift to sleep. Amazing how the mind works… I have always claimed my memory isn’t very good. Yet vivid details of growing up with all of my grandparents kept filling my head. Most, due to the circumstances, were centered on my Grandpa (and Grandma) Carlen. Memories of their house, and how all of us kids loved going down to the basement and playing billiards (even if we weren’t supposed to). The bar in the basement, complete with an antique (was it really antique back then?) cash register and all of the old, detailed glasses behind the bar. A carousel of poker chips. A bottle with numbered, round die that we would spill out of the bottle — I guess this was used to play some game of pool, but all I know is we had to make sure we didn’t lose any of the numbers. The somewhat scary–at least to a young child–storage area which was adorned with a sewing machine for grandma and fly fishing lure making equipment for grandpa. Of course, this is also where the large, wooden Santa sleigh and reindeer cutouts were stored when it wasn’t Christmas time.
The backyard of my grandparents’ house always had a garden–a rather large one, at that–and grandpa spent a lot of time trying to get the sprinkler system just right to cover it properly. Oh, and keeping rodents and rabbits out of it! Won’t mention the “gear” he used in assisting with his garden patrol efforts. Not sure why but three other things about the backyard really standout. First, the clothes lines that hung in the middle. Second, the bug zapper that was always at work on the patio, and third, the bushes around the fence which had secret paths we liked to go in and hide, as well as see the barking dogs next door. And how could I fail to mention the cinder blocks near the garage, where we as kids would take the large bark from around the trees and put them in the openings of the blocks, pretending they were mailboxes, just like the mailboxes at the post office where we would go, a few short blocks away, with grandma or grandpa to get the mail.
Grandpa loved bowling and rolled at least one 300 game in his time (don’t know how many, but know he had his name on plaque at bowling alley and had a ring to prove it!) and helped teach me to golf. I think the man golfed nearly every day of the spring-fall while he was able! So did my grandma.
Every time I see a long Lincoln Town Car or similar with an American Flag clipped to the window, I think of Grandpa. Oddly enough, I saw one here in the OP just a few weeks ago. Grandpa always drove around with an American Flag flapping by the window. He loved his country like he loved his family. I remember the last time I road in a car with G’pa driving. Scared the hell out of me. I believe this was after my grandma passed away, and clearly grandpa was at the onset of his horrible disease. He was driving me from the airport, and entering I-25, he failed to get over into the actual lane. Yep, we were driving on the side of the road. I had to speak up to get him over. Thankfully, he did, but it became crystal clear to me that day, driving shouldn’t be in the cards for him anymore.
Grandpa visited Rebecca, Spencer and I about five years ago with his lady friend Betty who had family out here in KC. They came out here for the Renaissance Fair and visited my old house. He came again when Rebecca and I got married. I may have the order of these two visits backwards, but I am so thankful he got out here and saw me where I live. Every moment is precious, and a great memory. I am thankful that he got the opportunity to meet my entire family, including Brody, before he passed. I know he doesn’t remember it, and neither will Brody, but it was important to me for that to happen and I have pictures to show my kids later in life. Brody’s middle name is Carlen, a tribute to both my grandma and grandpa, and I am so thankful that Rebecca suggested the idea. I haven’t mentioned how much Grandpa liked to give the ladies kisses and hugs. Never will I forget all of the kisses he gave my Princess Braelyn when he met her. I so wish I could go back to that day again.
I finally drifted to sleep last night, probably around 12:45. Within a half hour, the phone rang. I didn’t have to look… I knew. It was my mom. Instead of saying “hello” or anything else, I answered the call with “Our prayers were answered?”. My mom replied, “Yes, it is over.”
I have been on this earth 14,630 days now, and today is the first without a living grandparent. I feel blessed to have known and to remember each of my four grandparents–I know not everyone gets that opportunity. While I am saddened that each of them are now gone to a better place, I am thankful that my grandpa’s struggles are over and that he is dancing again.
Love to my family, and thanks for your prayers. They helped.