Today marks the first anniversary of my grandfather’s death. A year ago today I was working at FPC Maumee and got the call from Swan Creek that my Grandpa Charlie was dying. They hadn’t been able to get a hold of anyone else in the family yet, but the chaplain had my number so they called me. Graciously Pastor Clint drove me to Swan Creek as I tried to wrap my mind around what was going on and tried to get a hold of the rest of my family.
When we got to Swan Creek my grandmother and I sat beside him. I’m not even sure what I said other than, “I love you.” After a while my mom was able to get there and I was so grateful she was able to make it in time. She was much better with her words and was able to say all the things that needed to be said. Pastor Clint offered a prayer. Then we sat with him and after a while longer he passed away.
I am honored that I was able to be there, but it was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
My grandfather had a heart attack and a stroke in 2000. Throughout the last 11 years of his life the stroke had changed him greatly. He still had a great sense of humor, elevated vocabulary, and a vast knowledge of everything art history related, but the stroke stifled his ability to communicate and diminished his short-term memory. Those 11 years were filled with loss, but peppered with some great moments of when his eyes would sparkle, he would laugh, and for a short time we’d see who he’d been before.
My grandfather was a storyteller, full of tall tales and interesting anecdotes. He always loved being with children and had a genuine gift for approaching children on their level. He never talked down to kids, but was always looking for ways to bring out their creative spirit. He absolutely loved being a grandfather and took great joy in his family. Sunday night dinners at my grandparents’ house were a special time when he would create culinary masterpieces. When we would get together and watch a movie at my grandparents’ house he made great popcorn and put it in this giant wood bowl for everyone to share. He was a dynamic presence in the Toledo arts community and took a hand in helping to launch the glass movement.
I know over the years we will continue to remember and miss in him new and different ways as we think of a joke he would like, want his opinion on what we should do in our lives, or want to ask something about art. I know his absence will be felt greater at weddings, funerals, and births to come. I know that I am ever grateful to have had him as a grandfather and blessed to see how he impacted others with his life.