Today, heaven gained an extraordinary man. Grandpa Smith, my mom's dad, passed away at 3:45 am at 92 years young. It has been a tough couple of years for me in terms of losing close loved one but it gives me comfort knowing those I love so dearly are together and can keep each other company.
What can one say about a man who was larger than life? Grandpa worked hard, played harder and loved the hardest of anybody I know. I think if things had been up to him, we all (and by that I mean his eight children, their spouses, his 24 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren) would have lived down the street from him so he could see all of us every day. He always asked why it had been so long since my last visit, even if it had only been a couple weeks. And when we left, he'd always ask why we had to leave so soon, even if we'd been there all day! One could view that as complaining or being needy but it was simply his way of loving. I will miss that more than anything. Why don't more people love like that in today's world? Maybe the world would be a little better place if they did.
After a loved one passes away, I think you keep a certain image of them in your brain. That image probably depends on a lot of different things. For my dad, I think of him sitting quietly outside "meditating" and drinking a beer in a glass with ice! For my Grandpa Walsh, it is from the last picture I took of him, sitting by his front door playing with my kids. For Ron, my father-in-law, there are too many moments for one image but it is more of a feeling...ornery but supportive!
For my Grandpa Smith, it is a memory I have from when I was a kid...when he was still "young" and strong, maybe when I was around 10 years old. We spent our summers at their lake home, I mean, duh, right?!?! On one such visit, he was fishing (like he/we did so often) and got a hook stuck in his hand. Ouch, right? Nope, he tried to get it out but because it must have been in his right hand, he couldn't get it, So he calmly walked next door and ask if they could help! Seriously! He was wearing what he always wore...one of his uniforms from the days of when he owned his service station, but this one was brown, I think (he normally wore the navy blue one, right?). I don't know. It wasn't even an important event but for some reason, that is what sits in my head. His strength. His love of life. His ability to get things done. His stubbornness, more than anything else, his stubbornness (something both I and my daughter have "luckily" inherited in spades from him!!).
I said he was 92 years young because when we were young, on our birthdays, he always told us that we were a year older but he got a year younger and some day we'd be the same age! I know it sounds silly, but I LOVED thinking about that possibility! He certainly didn't "act his age" but that's a good thing when he's your grandpa. He had a way of being goofy or getting into trouble but blaming it on US. You ever wonder why I'm horrified by teeth? Grandpa used to take his rusty pliers and attempt to pull any lose teeth around...but then "accidentally" try to pull the wrong one. It got me every time! Thanks, Grandpa!
Dancing. Grandpa LOVED to dance. And he was good, too! Sadly, due to several health issues, he wasn't able to dance later in life. One of the greatest moments was when he got up and danced with Grandma at his 90th birthday party. I mean, if anybody wanted to know what true love looks like, it is that.
I want my grandpa back so badly. But I know that's selfish. He wanted this. He was ready. He's at peace. And finally now, he has what he wanted so badly on Earth but could never fully have...he can watch each and every one of us all the time, whenever he wants. He can feel how much we all love him. I'm SO happy for him but SO sad for me. Grandpa, I hope you're dancing. I can't wait until the day I can polka with you in heaven. Until then, fish, hunt, relax (do you know how to do that?) and if you have time, have a cold one with my dad and tell him I say hi.
Arrangements have been finalized: Visitation on Sunday 2-5 pm at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 211 13th St N, Benson, MN with the funeral Monday morning at 10:30 am.
His obituary can be found here: Perry H Smith
This sums grandpa all up perfectly:
Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.