Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Grandfather

It's so funny how thoughts work.  How thoughts sometimes predict life.  Last night, while I was cleaning the dome from the kitchen light, somehow my thoughts turned to my grandparents.  I thought about how they were so ahead of their time.  They were incredibly liberal for the 1940's.  My grandfather was an artist against his parents wishes.  My Jewish grandmother married my Lutheran grandfather against her parents express wishes.  My grandparents eloped and moved into a rural area in upstate New York to raise their family according to their ideals.  I was thinking about this just yesterday.

Two days ago, I was thinking about how my grandfather used to trap me in his lap when I was a toddler.  He would hold me close and jiggle my body back and force as I "tried" to escape from his clutches.  I would laugh until I cried.  When he released me, I would beg to be trapped again.  I was thinking that I would love for my father to trap Laura in the same way.  I was thinking about this just two days ago.

This afternoon I received an email from my father from 32,000 feet in the air. My father was on a plane, on the way to an important meeting, and he had news that was so important, it couldn't wait till he had landed. My grandfather died this morning. He was 94 years old. He was the only grandfather I ever knew. He was a wonderful grandfather.

Laura with her great-grandfather, December 2010
I have spent most of this afternoon thinking about Grandpa.  I thought about the last time I saw him, this Christmas.  My family was supposed to drive up to Vermont the day after Christmas, but were thwarted by a major snow storm.  So we rescheduled the trip for a few days later.  The morning of our trip, my father woke up incredibly sick.  It seemed as if we just were not meant to see Grandpa.  And then my mother who hates to drive grabbed her keys and started the car.  We strapped Laura in her carseat, made sure my dad had enough tea and soup to see him through the day, and hit the highway.  We spent a few hours watching Laura play at Grandpa's feet.  Laura won't remember meeting Grandpa, but I will.  I will always cherish that last visit.
This afternoon, I remembered visiting Grandpa and Grandma in the home they built from the ground up.  The home where I got to drink grape juice - which was never allowed at home. I still love purple grape juice, and am sad it's not longer sold in that glass bottle.

This afternoon, I remembered eating "wait-and-see" for desserts every night of our visits. For the longest time, I thought that was an actual dessert, something one could order at a bakery. I think it was usually pie and ice cream, but it was always delicious.

This afternoon, I remembered the smell of Grandpa's studio.  I loved going across the porch to the studio to watch him paint. The pungent oils made my eyes water while I stared, mesmerized, at his works. Grandpa's oil paintings are at least a small part of why I was so drawn to Art History in college.  Grandpa was always so proud of my career in the museum field.

This afternoon, I remembered going out to Wyoming to celebrate my grandparent's fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was a big number to me back then at age seven - and is still such a big number now.  I hope that in forty-six years Nate and I are joined by our children and grandchildren to celebrate our lifetime together.

My grandmother died five years ago.  My grandfather has been alone for five years.  I miss my grandmother and I will miss my grandfather, but I am happy knowing they are together again.