As the so-called “writer” in the family, and a part-time veteran of the newspaper world, I get the privilege of writing, or proof-reading family obits.
I shouldn’t say privilege (not because it’s one of those words that I just can’t seem to spell correctly) because it’s actually an honor.
Before I write on … it’s not like I do this all the time. This is only the second obit I’ve had to do in our family. The first was the sudden and shocking death of my Uncle Jeff back in April 2005. I stepped in for my family and offered to do what I like to do – write. In turn it helped ease the burden off of my Grandparents, my mom and her brother.
The second one is the death of my Grandpa Thomas.
Grandpa Thomas passed away Saturday, August 11 after a bout with lung cancer. This too was sudden and shocking as my parents broke the news of his having lung cancer to me Thursday night. Friday morning my mom came into my office and told me that he had until Monday to survive. Saturday evening he passed.
- Photo above: Me, Grandpa and Randy, circa 1995.
Who was Grandpa Thomas? I know … if you’ve followed my blog you may not recognize the name and that’s not a good thing.
It has been over seven years since I had last seen him. When I heard the news Friday I was stricken with grief – and guilt.
He briefly saw Lukas after he was first born. He never met my princess. He never met Levi. We didn’t get to share stories with him about the last seven years. It hurt me deeply. And why? Why didn’t we do this?
It costs money to travel. We had work schedules to deal with. They were all the way in California. These excuses played in my head, but really that’s all they were – excuses.
Grandpa Thomas is my dad’s foster father, or what my dad likes to call – his dad. They took my dad in when he was 11-years-old and after he spent time in and out of other homes. I’m sure there’s more to the story than I know, but just the thought of them putting up with my dad and knowing that it was my Grandparents that were his final destination means that they both cared for and put up with my stubborn father and that he loved them back.
My dad spent six years of his life with them before making what turned out to be a wonderful decision, though at the time even I would’ve questioned him despite being a direct result of it, marrying my mom at age 17. Yes, 17. I’ll allow you to gasp in puzzlement. Thirty-six years later (as of August 14) my parents are still hitched, sometimes silly decisions actually work.
Though not blood related my brothers and I only knew my Grandpa Thomas as just that, Grandpa Thomas. He was Dad’s dad. He was our Grandpa.
We spent Christmas Day with them. We spent Easter with them. I had allergic reactions to their cats with them. We shared a Lake Powell vacation with them. But for me my fondest memories are talking sports with him.
If you’ve followed my blog you know that I heart sports. Not just football, baseball or basketball but everything. I’ll watch it all, as did Grandpa Thomas. He was the only person in my family – either side – that I could really talk sports with. And if you’re a sports fan you know who you can and can’t turn the notch up on sports talk.
He made a baseball bat out of wood and I forever bugged him about making me one. I wonder if that bat he made is still around, it’d be a neat memory of him.
He had his silly sayings, one in particular that we continue to use today, “You’re like a lot of streets I know … One Way.” I’m guessing he used it on my dad, much like my brothers and I use it on him now.
Grandpa Thomas loved his grandkids. He loved spending time with us as a family, which makes me even more bothered that we didn’t spend the time to visit with them, he would’ve loved Lia, or keep more in contact with them than we did.
As kids you don’t do that. Your parents do that. As we grow from young adults to grown ups we’re so accustomed to having our parents relay messages to them that we can’t just pick up the phone and call them ourselves. That’d be weird!
Say what you may about Facebook but it’s always nice when I see that my Aunt Barbie (Dad’s sister) LIKED my Facebook status because I know she’s keeping track of us.
I spent most of my Friday grieving. I couldn’t believe the news. I was saddened that I wasn’t going to be there or wasn’t going to be able to say goodbye. I felt for my dad, who I knew was feeling a little upset because he too didn’t spend the time he wanted to spend with them. I was happy to hear that Dad was able to make it there to be with him before he passed. I know he’s not beating himself up for the lost time and I know he wants to make that right. Unfortunately it’s things like this cause some of us to pull a little closer.
Saturday when news broke that he had passed I was in the midst of running the Church Olympics at our annual campout. I couldn’t have been in a better place. Running events allowed me to take my mind off of the grief. It allowed me to be with good, caring people that care about me and my family. I could play volleyball or board games with the teenagers. My mind was elsewhere, which was a wonderful contrast to Friday when I sat in my office thinking only about my dying Grandfather.
I don’t really know what I’m saying now. It’s 1am. I’m tired. I just felt I needed to write something. Get it off my chest.
I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to see him in recent years. I’m sorry that I couldn’t see him before he passed. I’m sorry he never shared in the joy that is my trio of kids.
I’m thankful for the time I did spend with him. I’m thankful for the love he gave to his family. I’m thankful for the wonderful person he was. I’m thankful for the baseball talks. I’m thankful for the Padres tickets and the connection to Mark Parent. I’m thankful for what he taught my dad. But most importantly I’m thankful that he gave my dad a Dad.
Thank you Grandpa Thomas! You’ll be forever loved and forever missed!