This may not be a normal “working mom” post, but we all have loved ones we lose, working moms or not. I really don’t know another way to honor my grandpa- besides making choices that wouldn’t have him hollering “Judas Priest”!
People that knew grandpa before grandma died knew he was a goofball. Not one ounce of him cared what people thought. He was always in the moment, enjoying life. He retired from the post office when I was 4, so I really only knew the “retired” grandpa. I can’t speak to how grandma and grandpa were as parents. I assume they were fine- my mom and her siblings turned out to be successful, productive people. But, I can tell you, he loved being grandpa.
He was very passionate about taking care of his home and yard. You knew better than to touch the walls going up and down the stairs at their house. I laugh because my parents wouldn’t say boo about the boys touching the walls. If they did that at grandpa’s house, they would for sure get one booming warning before getting a good ol’ fashioned lickin’. You didn’t mess with his grass either- that was his summer hobby. He liked woodworking too. He even built custom Barbie furniture for his granddaughters. Of course he painted them bright green- that may have been the only paint color he had now that I think of it…
As much as he loved us, you didn’t mess around with him. When he said something, he meant business. I, being the oldest, of course had to test the waters with him. My most vivid memory was when he and grandma were over watching me and my brother. My mom had explicitly told me to not go to my friend’s house a block over. I, thinking grandpa was too old to catch me, decided to run over there. I mean, what was he really going to do?? Well, he chased me all the way to their porch (he ran way faster than I thought possible!). He carried me home, dangling me by one arm, swatting my butt the whole way. In today’s society, someone for sure would have called CPS. I’m pretty sure people in our neighborhood just looked and said “good for him”. Seriously though, I thought that he was going to beat me senseless.
Christmas was always a very special time with him. I think he loved getting the grandkids riled up on Christmas Eve telling us Santa was on the roof. We would plaster our noses on the window trying to look. Now that I think of it, that was actually one of the few times he didn’t yell at us about getting our fingers or faces on the window. Of course, he would usually do that after he had had a few adult beverages with the parents and neighbors. I remember Grandpa and his neighbor Tony having a great time together on Christmas Eve. The party didn’t start until Tony and Virginia came over. Even as a kid, I knew that was when things would get fun. Those memories of Christmas Eve are so nostalgic for me. I even told Hubs that this Christmas didn’t feel the same because that whole dynamic is different. But I suppose that is part of growing up.
Grandpa was always active too. He kept walking regularly even after retiring and managed to stay in pretty good shape (see above comments about him chasing me). He would often play Trac Ball with us in the backyard or ride around the yard on my brothers moped (that usually happened after a few adult beverages as well).
I remember when I told him I was dating hubs. He was not happy. Like many in his generation, plus from a smaller town, he didn’t quite understand the idea of an interracial relationship. I asked him to at least meet him and then to form his own opinion. So, when they met, I mentioned that hubs was a history major (this was well before med school) and that he was also in the Marine Corps (Grandpa was in the Navy and Army and very proud of his service time). Grandpa did manage to put him through the ringer a bit, he asked a lot of questions, but by the end of the day, they were swapping war stories and hubs was relentlessly picking his brain about all of his experiences. And of course them both being named “Robert” didn’t hurt! I joke with him that I think grandpa liked him more than me! I can remember going over there and they would sit for hours sifting through old documents while grandma and I would sit there and smile.
The other thing he loved a lot was grandma. As an outsider you may not know it- they bickered ALL THE TIME. Grandpa yelling “Judas Priest June!” and she retorting “Oh shut up Bob!”. It often served as our entertainment growing up. Probably the most memorable moment was the Christmas before grandma died. We were all playing cards- all the grandkids, spouses, grandma, and grandpa. They started arguing about which way you deal the cards- do you deal to the right or to the left? I mean really arguing. Like we were laughing and peeing our pants because these two were so serious about which way to deal the cards. The best part is that we all still laugh about it. In fact, I don’t think we can all play cards without mentioning it.
When she died, honestly, he died with her. He really wasn’t the same again. He didn’t know how to function. So, for the last 9 years, we’ve had a different version of grandpa. Sometimes, he was hard to love. Sometimes, he was just plain annoying. Most of the time, he was just not the same. So, when he passed away earlier this month, I was surprised. Mostly because it’s what he’s been saying he wanted since grandma died and no matter how much he smoked and his health failed, he just seemed to be hanging on. So, I believe grandpa got what he wanted for Christmas, to be with grandma again. We just hope she was ready for him!