We sat around the table…laughing and reminiscing about all the crazy times we’ve had with him. Riding tractors…showing sheep…falling in pig pens. The list goes on. When we heard that my grandpa had taken a turn for the worse, we all dropped everything and went to see him. Most likely for the last time. Seven busy lives that found time for what matters most. When we got there…it was unlikely that he was going to wake up to talk to us…but somehow I just think he knew we were there. My mom had bought a bunch of paper lanterns to set off at Gary’s birthday party…but when she realized it was majorly illegal in Chicago, we vetoed that idea. So we thought this time was as good as any. Why not set a few lanterns off for Grandpa.
We all wrote our favorite memories on them. Funny stories and wishes for him to take with him to heaven. And laughed just thinking about the disastrous idea of setting little fire balls off into a heavily wooded area. But we did it anyway. We went out on the back deck and read what we wrote. We laughed so hard our side hurts…watching all of us attempt to light and successfully send these up into the night sky. But miraculously…they worked. They floated up and up and up until we couldn’t see them anymore. And something about it seemed happy. Like we were sending these up to my grandma…letting her know my grandpa would be there soon.
The rest of the night we spent around that kitchen table talking and laughing…while my grandpa slept 10 feet away. Eventually, we called it a night and fell asleep with smiles on our faces. Knowing this is what he would have wanted. Not for everyone to sit around sad. But for his family to be together…having fun and remembering what a truly incredible life he lived.
The next morning he passed away. Deep down…I think he waited for all of us to get there. I think he could hear the stories and laughter and he knew it was OK to go. And I know…that right now…he is somewhere with my grandma. Whistling a happy tune…watching over us all.
I love you grandpa. You will forever be missed.
I left in a hurry and didn’t take my camera. So I apologize for the poor quality.