Friday, June 17, 2011

Dads and Granddads, Part I

Happy Father's Day weekend to all the Dads!                                                                                                                     
I am sure I can't do them justice in one or two blog posts, but here are the Dad's from my family...                                                                       
Grandpa D.  
Grandpa D was my maternal grandfather.  He was born in Poland and came to the US when he was 2.  I don't know much more about his life until he met my Grandma.  When they were dating or first married, their car got stuck on the tracks and hit by a train after they'd escaped.  They were amused later to see a photo of their car posted somewhere, lamenting the loss of the couple who died inside!  Weird story, I guess, but it's the earliest one I remember about him.                                                                                                                                                                 
Grandma & Grandpa D
at my 5th birthday party
I mentioned in Celebrating the Moms who came before me that he and Grandma managed a lumber camp.  Grandpa did the maintenance work while Grandma did the cooking.  One time he was fixing the tracks where there had been a washout.  He had my mom with him, who was just a toddler at the time.  He was working away and turned to see that she had walked out on the tracks that were hanging in mid-air, and he had to be so calm and quick to save her.  You could hear the fear and thankfulness he felt then as he told the story years later.                                                                                                             Most of his life, and what I remember, is that Grandpa owned and ran a small town hardware store.  He and Grandma 'went to town' every week to pick up things for the store from the wholesale houses and had lunch at their favorite restaurant, sometimes inviting some of us along.  They kept up their weekly lunch date even after he retired.                                                                                           
Later in their lives, they enjoyed traveling around in their motor home.  I especially remember the time they came to visit me in the town where I lived alone, managing a fabric store.  It was the time I got to know Grandpa the best... and I loved those two days.                                                                                                                                                      
Grandpa had a couple bouts with cancer.  The 2nd time it was found in his liver and they told him he had only 6 or 7 months to live.  It was the year he and Grandma celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary, and he surprised her by filling their home with 55 roses.  The tough guy lasted more than a year longer than they predicted, so the next year, he got her 56.                                                                                                                                                          
During that time is when Hubby and I got married.  Grandma attended the wedding alone, as Grandpa wasn't well enough to come.  He was actually embarrassed by his condition, and unbeknownst to us, he was in the church parking lot in the motor home all the time. I so wish we'd known so we could've paid him a special visit.  A week or so after the wedding we took the video of our wedding to watch with him.  He dabbed at tears through most of it.  Grandma told me later that as we were leaving, she said, "Aren't they a cute couple?"  But he told her, "No.  They're a beautiful couple."  During a couple of rough spots, it's that statement that helped keep me more firmly committed.  I couldn't disappoint him and not be that beautiful couple he had such faith in.                                                                                                                                                                        
Grandpa loved his family and loved the Lord.  No one has ever loved anyone more than Grandpa loved Grandma.  He died in 1985.

Grandpa T.
I didn't know Grandpa T, my fraternal grandfather, because he died when my dad was 6.  I know he had blue eyes and was handsome.  I know he was amazing, because my grandma loved him, and because I'm sure he, along with my grandma and her father, laid the initial foundation for the man my dad became.  Previous to his death, he was in the hospital with an infection.  During that time grandma gave birth to their 5th child, and the hospital personnel wouldn't allow Grandpa, as a patient, to leave his room to go visit grandma and my uncle.  He was so angry, and so determined to see them, he checked himself out... Though done out of love, it was a decision that cost him his 1936.

Grandpa H.
Grandpa married Grandma after returning from heroic service in Australia and the South Pacific during World War II, serving in the National Guard.  Like many men of that time, he didn't talk about his awards or accomplishments.  We only found out about them in little bits and years later.  Some, I believe, after he was gone.                                                                                                                                   
Grandma was always a devoted member of the Catholic church and was concerned about how the church would view a possible marriage to this non-Catholic man.  The priest told her that any man willing to take on a woman with 5 children (ages 10 -16) proved himself a quality choice in more important ways than by what church he attended.                                                                                                                                                                               
Grandpa H and Dad enjoy a chat during one of the kids' parties
After they married, the family moved from the city to a farm.  My dad tells the story of when they had a chimney fire.  Dad was sent for a ladder, while Grandpa manned the hose.  But, Dad tells us that by the time he got back, the fire was out. Grandpa had used pure strength and will to climb the side of the house...straight up the wall!                                                                  
Grandpa H was our playmate.  He sat with us on the floor and counted coins and looked at our toys.  He held the little rocking chair overhead in his strong arms, flying us around the house.  He always made sure our piggy banks had a little extra something each time he and Grandma came to visit.                                                                                                                                                                                    
He and Grandma often attended the kids' birthday parties at our house.  One of my favorite memories is watching our children follow Grandpa out into the back yard.  He had them look for planes up in the sky...When one flew over he'd tell them to look around the yard to see if the people in the planes had dropped anything.  Funny that things only fell out of planes when Grandpa was around, but the kids never seemed to notice.                                                                                                                                   
Grandpa was a truck driver for many years, hauling chickens.  In the years most would be retiring, he and Grandma managed apartment houses.  He was in his 80s when he decided to try commercial fishing and ran a boat all by himself in the Pacific out of Westport, WA.  He could not sit still, and always wanted to be working.  In the apartment buildings, not only did he do maintenance, but ran the elderly residents to doctor or beauty shop appointments, or ran to pick up their prescriptions at the drug store.  He liked to be useful and always worked hard.                                                                                                                                                                 
Ever since the War, he'd always had a dream to revisit Australia.  He finally went when he was 90.  Although they had thoroughly enjoyed traveling together in previous years, Grandma had too many back and leg problems to make that long trip, so he went alone.  Thankfully, God put an angel on his arm, in the form a woman he met on the plane ride over, who was staying at his same hotel.  When he had a serious medical emergency the first day he arrived, she was near to help out, visit him daily, and keep my grandma informed by phone.  She talked the doctors into letting her escort him to the sites he'd wanted to see after he was released from the hospital before flying back home.                                                                                                                                                                   
He exhausted himself the last few years, helping Grandma as her health and her abilities declined.  He at first started to lend a hand with meals and doing her Christmas baking.  Then he took over some of the meals.  When she couldn't sleep, he didn't sleep.  For her last weeks, they moved to an "adult family home," where Grandma could receive the more intensive care she needed.  Grandpa didn't need that type of care, but stayed in a room of his own on the premises, so he could be near.  Christie and Bert, who run Heavenly Acres, also recognized Grandpa's need to be busy and let him help with yard work and other tasks around the facility.  After Grandma died, he stayed on there, and they treated him like family.  In fact, now that he's gone, they still keep in contact with Mom and Dad, and treat them as family, too.                                                                                                                                                                              
Not long after Grandma passed away Grandpa had some phantom black outs that resulted in falls and ensuing hospital stays.  He ended up in a special respiratory unit with tubes that kept him from being able to talk.  The staff mentioned how strong his arms were, but I knew about that and remembered the rocking chair flights, and the loving hugs. Sometimes he was too tired to know we were there, but other times his eyes would sparkle and you could tell how pleased he was to see us.  He tried to participate with smiles and gestures.  The love showed through the way he looked at us and watched us.  Eventually, respiratory crises became more frequent and he stopped waking up.  He went to be with the Lord about 6 months after Grandma 2007.

I think this is enough for one day...So I'll save Dad and Hubby for tomorrow.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...