Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Life Remembered

Thursday was a difficult day to say the least.  Of course I didn't sleep a wink and was up at 3:30 am digging around for pictures of my grandpa.  At that point I knew that there was no hope for recovery, but he was still hooked up to a ventilator which was breathing for him.  When I turned on my phone upon landing in Kansas City, a text from my mom popped up telling me that Grandpa had passed away about 15 minutes earlier.  I burst into tears. The poor guy in the seat next to me didn't know what to do other than get out of the way so that I could get off the plane asap. 

The final cause of death was a stroke which caused a massive brain bleed.  The doctors said that the stroke probably caused the car accident which then ruptured a brain aneurysm. It was quick and he died peacefully which gave us all some comfort.

Whitney arrived at the airport a few hours and a beer later to pick me up.  She was awesome at distracting me during the 3 hour drive to Springfield.  It's amazing how no matter how long it's been since we last talked or saw each other, we pick up right where we left off.  It's no wonder we've been friends for 17 years.  She kept me calm so that when I arrived at the hospital I was composed...until I saw Aunt Jan.  A few minutes later the chaplain and the doctor came down to take me to say goodbye.

On one hand I was so glad I got to say goodbye but it was devastating to seem him like that. He was cold as ice and looked so small.  The doctor cut a lock of his hair for me. I remember sitting with him, drinking juice, watching Shirley Temple movies playing with his gray hair.

My Grandma is doing as well as can be expected for losing her 'best bud.'  We spent all of Thursday and much of Friday going through pictures, telling stories, laughing, crying, loving and mourning.  I am absolutely amazed by the friends my grandparents have made in Branson. There was a continuous stream of people bringing food, drinking, and hugs.  The community they live in even provided lunch and dinner for us and any other mourners that wanted to join us. My grandma has a wonderful support system there which makes me happy.

The memorial service was on Saturday evening. I seriously considered wearing grandpa's big, white Velcro shoes to the service but decided against it at the last minute.  I used to love to put on those boats (size 13) when I was little. 

Beautiful flowers and pictures covered the alter. Friends and loved ones told wonderful stories about my grandpa, including one written by his best friend Wally, read by Wally's daughter.


I wanted to get up to tell everyone about how Grandpa was always at the end of the pool lane cheering for me at every swim meet, he ate all the jelly beans I didn't want until I finally got the right color out of the 'pooping' duck in this office, played dominoes with me in the piano room while I enjoyed juice and he enjoyed a glass of wine, always made sure ice cream sandwiches were in the freezer and strawberries in the fridge and so many more things but I couldn't get through it.  My grandpa was a big teddy bear who loved me, my family and his friends unconditionally.  I will miss hearing him call me Jessie Anne and say I love you Honey.

I feel so blessed to have had him in my life for 26 years, but am so sad that my kids won't ever get to meet and know him.  One of the best parts of the weekend were all the stories that people told us about him. I feel like I learned so much about him.  We even found pictures we're calling the Bond Years from when he travelled the world studying architecture. The service was followed by a party at Wally's house to celebrate Grandpa's life. It was a great time and he would have loved it. 

He was a world traveler, accomplished architect, gifted artist but most of all he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother and friend. I will miss him forever.

February 26, 1926-August 12, 2010

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