My grandpa lived on a farm. A farmer all his life. He lived in the country... but the city grew rapidly (Spokane WA) so it was right next to him within miles... He lived up on a hill and he had a farm, (obviously if he was a farmer) and he had soooo much land out there. They were all wheat fields. We used to spend our summer days out there on the combines collecting wheat and working and playing on the farm. Mostly playing as the combines were so hot... but my dad and uncles would let us ride with them. I mostly liked to be in the kitchen cooking and that always stuck with me. He didn't have a lot of animals... just enough for him and my grandma as they got older. Enough to live off of and some to give to his kids and the neighbors. But, wheat... he always had wheat... fields and fields of it.
He was a collector of *junk*... mostly cars. He always felt he would have enough time to repair these cars so he would get them and they went in this empty part of land behind the barn. There, he had the gem that brings back the most memories to me... an old milk truck with the big drum cylinder on it... It was HUGE. At night in the summer, we used to climb to the top of that truck and it overlooked the huge city of Spokane. All the lights. I knew I had the best of both worlds at those moments... the beauty and activities of such a big city... but I was tucked away at their small farm home. We could see fields and fields of wheat from up there too... and smell the cow pasture. We used to sleep out on the front lawn as well... no tent... just in the open air. It actually got kind of scary at times, but I never let onto that. There would be coyotes howling at night...and I would wonder if they would find me and eat me for dinner.
My grandpa died of cancer. He was at my wedding, when he should not have been... as he was at deaths door. My first clear memory of my grandpa was dancing around the kitchen on his feet... we would dance and dance and he would let out big belly laughs... and we would giggle and I would beg for one more dance. My grandma was mean and didn't like me ever... not ever, but my grandpa loved me. She would try to rush him out the door and he would say not til I get one more dance with my girls. In later life it was with his girls as my little sister would be there as well, or my cousins... and we would dance again. My last memory of him was at the wedding. He insisted on going to the reception too. Again he should have been at home in bed. He had just had surgery on his neck where the wound was now bleeding. My grandma made a big deal of it and it made him feel bad. I told her to leave him alone... and let him just be... to just absorb the surroundings. My dad and uncles were never allowed to play music at home much... they were too busy with chores and what not... no time for music when you live on a farm with the fields and crops the size that they were. His farm then was large too... anyhow... my last memory that I treasure from him... is at my wedding. He was really really weak. He came up and asked me to dance. I asked if he really should... then I remembered my words... of course he should dance. The song was unforgettable by Nat King Cole. We danced... and we didn't talk. I just bawled. The music was done... and I released him from my grip... to pull away as the song ended... but he held on. The next song started up again... and it was the song I Got You Babe by Sony and Cher. He knew the words. He knew every word and he sang them as we danced. To stop myself from crying and ruining all my makeup... I started to tease him... he was listening to music when the boys didn't get to. He knew this song from when my dad was young. HE GAVE OUT THAT HUGE BELLY LAUGH and admitted to me that he had a radio in his shop that the boys would sneak in and listen to... and he listened to it regularly.
I spent one more visit with him after the wedding at his house. He slept most of the time I was there. It was okay... I was at peace knowing he needed that rest. He would dose in and out. I would rub his arm, and he would rub my hand. There were no belly laughs that day... When it came time to go... I just couldn't. I couldn't leave. It took two hours to get to my car. I would walk a few feet and he would tire. We would rest. He insisted on walking me out as he always had. He even asked how the oil was in my car... such my grandpa. We knew it would be our last goodbye. It was evident. How do you say good byes like that? I surely do not know to this day. We would walk and I would need to turn and just hug him. We would cry. I would walk a few feet and he couldn't go any further, so he would call me back. We would cry. This went on for, like I said... nearly two hours. I told him how much I loved him and thanks for being a great man in my life. He sobbed. He told me I was a country princess... loving the farm life in high heels and purses... and we tried to laugh, but simply couldn't. I lost him to cancer months later while I lived in Iowa. I couldn't make it to the funeral... yet... I knew we had already said our goodbyes.
I miss him and I know I am rambling. He has been on my heart a lot lately. I have been thinking of him a lot. I started a new job waiting tables during the graveyard shift. I get older people in there, so maybe that is what is weighing him very heavy on my heart. Each time I tell someone that a cup of coffee costs $1.99 I think of my grandpa and how he would spit nails before paying $1.99 for a cup of coffee. When someone orders cocoa, I think of how he would dunk his toast in it and eat it that way... and how I started to eat it that way as well.
I have been trying to avoid sweets... but as I sit here with tears rolling down my face, I feel tonight at work... I am going to have to do two things in honor of my grandpa....
1) Buy someones cup of coffee for them... just because.
2) Sit and eat my toast with a cup of cocoa.
I love you grandpa, and I often wonder how I survived cancer and it took you. You were so much stronger than me always.
I miss you... more than you know. Be ready to dance when I get there... you are going to owe me quite a few. And you will owe my daughter Carlie that you never got a chance to meet. And, you will owe your great-great granddaughter Bella a dance too... as Mandie is about to have a baby. I hope I can touch her life as much as you touched mine.