Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Papa Edgar

(July 2014-Atley, Nash & Harley with their Great-Grandpa & Grandma Edgar)

Right before the school year ended I called my Grandparents. Generally, we talk every couple of weeks, sometimes more frequently. But, the hectic nature of the year ending had aided in my procrastination of calling and despite repeated promptings to call sooner I had not.  You can imagine my surprise when a dear cousin answered my grandparent's phone, in the middle of the day, on a Thursday. Of course, I immediately knew something was wrong and my cousin's reluctance to explain what he was doing there at such an odd time only intensified my fears.  Eventually, my grandma was placed on the phone and fighting through her tears, she explained to me that several days earlier my grandpa had become unexpectedly ill and despite everyone's best efforts he was not going to survive.  He was home under the care of hospice, unable to eat, drink or speak and I was thousands of miles away.  Grandma explained that he understood what people were saying, so she put the phone to his ear and I told him how very much I loved him and that I was going to get there as soon as possible.  
(Clive Edgar 15 years old)

Not knowing if we would make it in time, the kids and I caught the next available flight. We didn't arrive until very late Sunday night.  I called to see if it was too late for me to come see grandpa. Grandma's reply was that he was waiting for me and wouldn't go to sleep until I arrived. I thought my heart would break in two.  There he lay looking so small and frail in his hospital bed, propped up in the living room of their home.  He was indeed waiting for me and miraculously he was communicating.  I told him again how much I loved him and he reminded me of the song he had asked me to sing at his funeral-My Way by Frank Sinatra. I told him I would do whatever he wanted. Then he asked me if I would sing it to him right then and there.  I'm not really sure how I got through singing him that song,  while he cried beside me along with the rest of the family. It most certainly was divine intervention and such a comfort to both of us as we said our goodbyes.  My grandfather passed away on June 30, 2015. He was 79 years old.  

(Papa letting me play nurse circa. 1984)

When I was a kid 79 would have seemed ancient but as each year passes I realize how very young 79 years old is. In fact, 90 seems younger everyday.  I wasn't ready to lose my grandfather.  It was hard. What made it harder was the feeling I got from others that losing a grandparent wasn't really a big deal.  Granted, my grandpa lived a full life, full of adventure, full of love, heartbreak and learning.  But I loved him and because of that, it was never going to be easy to say goodbye.  

My grandpa was a unique man.  He overcame many difficulties.  He was creative and artistic. He loved learning. He loved people. He was generous and loved his family despite how they may break his heart at times.  Most of my childhood was spent only a few miles from his home. I went there after school most days and when grandma didn't have cookies baked for me, which she usually did, grandpa would sit down with me and we would eat saltines with thousand island dressing.  He would tell me stories and ask me questions and he listened to what I had to say.  His influence on my life was inevitable. 
He always encouraged me.  One New Year's Eve I was staying at my Grandpa and Grandma Edgar's house while my parents were out with friends.  I was probably 9 years old and I desperately wanted to stay up until midnight. I was starting to get very tired and was afraid I wasn't going to make it until midnight.  Grandpa brought me an exercise trampoline and told me to start jumping to stay awake. It was only 10:30 at this point.  After at least 45 minutes of solid jumping, my grandmother began to be concerned.  She asked me something like, "Are you getting too tired?  Maybe you better take a break?"  My reply was, "I'm no wimp grandma."  Then Grandpa said, "That's right. She is not a wimp. She is the toughest girl I know. She can do anything."  Something about the way he said those words, made me believe him and believe in myself. I jumped all the way to midnight.  He gave me the gift of confidence.
 His love for me was  unconditional and I knew it.  I was certain I was his favorite grandchild.  But that is what is most remarkable, I  think all of his grandkids were certain they were the favorite.  He made us all feel special.  He encouraged me to write and sing. He was proud of me when I graduated from college and more proud when I gave up my career to have a baby.  He tried to teach me to paint and loved the disaster that I created.  He took me on jewelry selling trips and taught me to love green chili on everything.  He gently cut the turquoise ring off of my finger when I was bucked off of a horse and several weeks later replaced it with a brand new ring that he said he had made even sturdier for all the mischief I seemed to get into.
He taught me to appreciate the simple things and recognize the beauty in God's creations. One example of this happened right before his passing. 
Grandpa had a humming bird feeder in front of his window.  He often talked about this little yellow bird that would show up to eat from the hummingbird feeder. Before he passed away that little yellow bird returned to the feeder.  Grandpa cried to see his feathered friend again.  What an example of finding joy in the little things! 
Grandpa and Grandma bickered like little kids but as he lay dying his greatest concern was that my grandma be taken care of. He loved her and they worked at their marriage.  Many years ago my grandparents had to move from a home that they built and loved.  The day they were leaving my grandma dug up a little tree sprouting from the grass. She planted it into a pot and carried it around in that pot as they moved from place to place before finally settling into the home in which my grandfather died.  At one point my grandpa planted that little sprout in the ground by my grandmother's kitchen window. It grew into a beautiful crab apple tree.  One morning a few days after my grandfather passed away I walked into the kitchen to see my grandmother crying over a little box on her kitchen table.  Inside the box was a necklace my grandfather had made for her from the branches of her crab apple tree, attached was a poem he had written.

Love Is

Love is free
Love is kind
Love is Eternal
Love is sublime
Love is strong, give it time
Love is even a small crabtree
Love is made from its branch you'll see
Love is the fat on the soul
that keeps you warm when you get old.

Thanks for all you taught me Papa. Thanks for loving me and my babies and for loving my grandma. I think of you often and am so grateful you were my grandpa. You and grandma provided me with an ideal childhood, full of love, adventure and excitement. I'll miss our chats on the phone.  I can hear your voice in my head answering and saying, "Hey, Sugar!  How's that awful neighbor of yours?"  Of course I always knew you meant Obama. 

Love you forever,

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