During these last few years, my grandpa C.R. was sometimes puzzled about why he was still on earth. While he might have felt that his lessons had been learned and it was time to move on, he didn’t realize that he still had many lessons to teach from his tan recliner.
After we lost Grandma Helen at the beginning of 2009, Grandpa made his new home at the nursing home. “Come see my room!” I remember him saying. He loved giving people the tour of his new home and he always added, “This is where I live now.”
Gone were the denim work clothes stained with oil, paint, and hard work.
When Grandpa first moved nearly four years ago, I was scared to go visit him one-on-one. Do you know why? Because this man I had grown up across the yard from, was a stranger to me on some level. During the first time I made my parents come with me. I was in my late 20s and I couldn’t figure out how to speak to my own grandfather.
After a chat or two I became more selfish with my visits as Grandpa and I connected on a level I never expected. He and I could talk for hours about family, business, faith, relationships, and stories of the past. When Grandpa would get tired he would glance at the clock – often that was his signal that it was time to wrap up. If we were on the phone that signal was him saying, “Well, it’s your nickel.”
During one visit while deep in conversation about our business hits and misses, he smiled and said, “You and I – we never run out of things to talk about.” I flashed back to being so scared to talk to this man and I realized he had become one of my life’s biggest mentors. I valued his advice on how to treat people, I appreciated his sometimes-tough love, and I cherished those tender moments and tried so hard to lock them away to remember on another day. I looked forward to our visits, our laughs, lessons, and especially those Grandpa hugs.
Late last week, Grandpa C.R. left this earth and I know he is now surrounded by beauty, joy, and is reunited with his wife, my Grandma Helen. I hope he kicks up his heels in Heaven just like he did as a young man when he met Grandma at the dance hall in Bathgate, N.D.
When I shed tears it’s not because I’m sad for him – I know Grandpa had his bags packed and he was ready to go – but it’s because I am sad that our visits have come to an end. His lessons have been taught and that classroom is now closed.
It’s a good thing I was taking notes.