We lost Joe's grandpa yesterday.
While he was 90, and all the right things have been said, all the suffering and illness are gone, all the goodbyes have been shared, it's still hard. Even when you're 40, your grandpa is still indeed your grandpa.
This relationship, however, between Joe and Grandpa Dick is one that has spanned not just four decades, but acres of fields, many, many fence lines, countless hours spent in the pasture, and many, many, many phone calls.
When Joe and I first started dating, whatever we were doing on Sunday night had to stop for about an hour so that Joe could call and update Grandpa. "What do ya say, Dick?" was always the beginning, and once I was offered the phone, I knew I was "in" with the family.
I'll miss hearing his voice on the other end.
His last few years have been dotted with illnesses, some more severe in spirit than in body. Growing old was hard for Grandpa Dick. He was a young soul, and rarely did I ever think of him as someone who was pushing 90. I have to believe that it was because Grandpa Dick wasn't one to reminisce. He wasn't one of the old guys at the coffee shop who would talk about the good old days, the years he spent playing basketball (which he was really, really good at), or the times spent with his family as a child. He rarely spoke of any time but the present. He enjoyed the company of friends who were several years his junior, and loved being around his grand kids and great grand kids. As I think of this, I don't think there's a birthday party we hosted here that he didn't come to. That's pretty amazing.
From my observation, he lived in the present, the here and now.
No sense fretting about the past, and while he cared about the future, and his plans were set for the end, his role on the farm only morphed just a few years ago from one of the major workers to a more retired role. Joe always marveled after days spent working with his grandpa how he was outworked by a senior citizen. He never seemed his age, which was always a surprise to me when we would celebrate it. He was one of those men who seemed to never age, until only recently.
Joe has been hit hard by this loss. We lost his mom two years ago, and that was hard too, but this relationship was different. Joe was Grandpa Dick's sidekick from the earliest of his memories. Grandpa Dick encouraged Joe to show cattle, praised his efforts in the corporate world, commiserated with the ups and downs of farming, puffed up with pride when we named Jackson Richard after him. Grandpa was Joe's mentor. One of his biggest cheerleaders. One of his friends.
It's a loss that cannot be replaced.
I can only hope that with Grandpa's passing, we can take a moment to live in the present. To grieve this loss. To remember the life that was lived for farm and family. To hug each other tight as we remember good times (ask Joe about an unfortunate golf cart incident) and try to remember that the bad days he had are behind him.
I'm thankful I got to know Grandpa Dick. He has been a big part of our lives, and his memory will continue to impact how we live...he was never short on opinions, calling us "reckless" when we found out about the twins! Ha!
Rest in peace, Grandpa Dick. We miss you, love you, and will see you on the other side.