On Saturday, March 20, 2021, my Grandpa passed away. He passed peacefully, quickly, and without pain. He's now with my Grandma, who passed away in 2010, from ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease.
My Grandpa was a kind & loving soul. He had the biggest heart. I've seen him cry on more than one occasion, from both sadness and joy. Even though I'm his only granddaughter, he always, always said I was his "favorite granddaughter." He sent texts full of emojis, made a point to buy everyone cheesy & flashy Hallmark cards for their birthdays. He enjoyed the outdoors - fishing, hiking, hunting - and some of my best memories with him are on a fishing boat up north.
I remember when I was a kid, maybe in 4th or 5th grade, Grandma & Grandpa would pick me up from summer camp, and we would head up north for a week. My cousin, Sam, was in tow. Just me, my cousin, and the Grandparents. Sam & I were so excited because we were allowed to eat candy, drink pop, and do whatever our hearts desired. I remember when Sam & I would borrow the paddle boat from the neighbor and go out on the lake, trying to catch turtles swimming in the crystal clear water. We could see the lily pads, rocks, fish, turtles, and weeds so clearly. Grandma & Grandpa would take us out on the fishing boat, and when Sam or I caught a fish, my Grandpa would be SO HAPPY FOR US. My Grandma would sit at the front of the boat, reading or just relaxing. I remember how warm the sun was, how cool the water was, and how Grandma encouraged us to "wash up" in the lake because the cabin didn't have a working shower (or running water for that matter).
My Grandpa knew everything there was to know about sports. If you didn't know what to talk about with my Grandpa, just ask him how the Packers, Cubs, Badgers, or Blackhawks are doing.
My Grandpa was a businessman. He owned a car dealership, a trophy shop, and drove a semi-truck at various points in his life. He married my Grandma after she finished nursing school. He & my Grandma both worked - a concept that may have been rather taboo at the time.
My Grandpa always, alwayssss asked me about work. I often was annoyed by this, because for the last 8+ years, when I would get to see him would be vacation for me. He always wanted to know how the "industry" was doing and what I was working on. When I talked about what I was doing, he understood. He may have not understood the technology, but he understood the underlying concepts of whatever business I was talking about. Entrepreneurship & business acumen runs in the family.
He was a prankster. Grandpa always had a toothpick hanging out of his mouth. When I was a kid, he would trick me into thinking he swallowed it, only to cough and pull it out of his mouth. I was so confused! How could he swallow a tooth pick?!
If Sam or I didn't want to eat something, like his beloved cranberries (he ate cranberries every single day), he would tell us "I'm gonna shove that up your butt if you don't eat it!" It scared the shit out of us! Sam tried the cranberries, and immediately spit them all over the wall, leaving a magenta splatter on a white wall.
I remember when we were up north, I would ride around on the ATV like a mad woman. I was ruthless on the ATV! One time, I took it out and stayed out for too long, I guess, because the next thing I know, I hear my Grandpa yelling "JENNNYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!" from somewhere out in the woods. I drove back as fast as I could, and boy was he MAD! I remember being very, very, very sorry I was gone for too long.
My Grandpa was very social. He always had a lot of friends. He would go to coffee with his friends, every morning, at McDonald's. Imagine, a group of 4-5 60-something men sitting around at McDonald's, having coffee every morning, and the cackles they would produce. After the coffee group days, he met up with friends for fish fry's, pizza nights, burger nights, spaghetti nights, whatever it was. He was always getting out to do something.
He was a die-hard conservative, and I argued with him several times about politics. At some point in the last couple of years, I had decided I wasn't going to just not talk to him about politics to avoid the conflicting viewpoints we were going to have, and instead I would just start talking about how I felt and what I believed. Often times, he just nodded, and some times, I felt like I would get him to understand. It doesn't matter in the end, though. It doesn't change what a big heart & personality he had.
I will miss my Grandpa greatly. We all thought we had just a little more time. The last time I saw him, he was "walking" to the bathroom (I saw walking because at this point it was more like a shuffle/scoot), and he did not look or smell good. I knew he was on his way out, but I didn't think that would be the last time I saw him.
I'll miss his giant bear hugs, gross kisses on the cheek, and the occasional ourburst like "fuck this ipad it needs to go in the shitcan" LOLOL. "Shitcan" is now a word we use in my family.
Hug your loved ones, if you can. If you can't give them a hug, give them a call. I was going to call my Grandpa this morning. He was always on his iPad and I knew I could catch him on Facetime. I was only waiting because I knew he slept in later. Just as I was sitting down to give him a call, my Mom calls with the bad news.
Take care & thanks for reading,