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I love Jesus. I love my family. I love photography. I love books. I love thinking. Probably in that order. I have a wonderful husband, five beautiful daughters, a house, and a camera. I enjoy spending time talking to my husband, playing with my girls, redecorating my house and shooting things with my camera. In my spare time, I sleep.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Grandpa

Last Friday, my family and I stopped by the nursing home to visit my Grandpa & Grandma. Grandpa sat in his chair smiling at my kids and complaining about how muddled his mind has been lately.  He held my new baby and asked me to remind him of her name.  Yesterday, he stepped out of his bed and into heaven.

I was Grandpa Hoar's first grandchild.  I like to think that I was his favorite.  I never knew my Grandpa to work. He had retired long before I was born to stay home and care for my Grandma who suffered with agoraphobia and couldn't be alone.  He always sat in his chair in the corner of their trailer house kitchen.  He was reliable in that.  Look through old photos or watch any of our old home videos and that is where he was...always sitting in his corner.  He was a heavy smoker when I was very young...but quit cold turkey after almost dying with a burst appendix.  He replaced  his cigarettes with hard candy--butterscotch discs, cinnamon discs, root beer barrels--and I could always count on him to sneak me a piece if I'd ask.  He'd steal a hug and I'd bury my face in his cotton button up shirt and sniff in the smell of his cologne, then he'd reach up behind his chair into his "special" cupboard and give me a piece of his candy.

I had so many special times with Grandpa Hoar.  I think fondly of the Thanksgiving Eve's I spent the night at their house and sat over the heater vent by his feet and the summer evenings sitting together on the porch swing eating chunks of Colby cheese.    I remember sitting in the back seat of his car while Grandma ran in to the grocery store.  And every time I had my hair up, he'd grab my pony tail, lift it up and make a farting noise!

Before his mom was moved down to be closer to all of us, Grandpa used to drive up to her house in SD and mow her lawn several times each summer and when he did my mom & aunt would often spend the day with Grandma.  If we were lucky, Grandpa would let my cousins, siblings & me go with him.  We would ride under the topper in the back of his pickup all the way there.  And then we'd let great grandma spoil us with treats and spend the rest of the time getting in his way.

Grandpa also used to spend a lot of time outside in his shed.  We'd arrive at the trailer and stop to say 'hi' to Grandpa who was sitting just inside that old shed listening to the radio, before we'd head inside to see Grandma.   I don't know what he did out there all day besides listen to the radio but I assume it was his way of having time alone.  His shed was filled with his "treasures".  I'm sure some would label most of it junk but as a kid I always found his tin cans full of trinkets intriguing--probably because he rarely let us look at any of it.  He'd grump at us if we messed around in his shed.  When I was around jr high age, I went hiking with my best friend and found a piece of bark off a tree and I carved a message in it for Grandpa about how much I loved him and I brought it home and gave it to him.  He hung it up in his shed with his other treasures and for years and years he would remind me that he still had that bark hanging in his shed.  That's how I knew how much it meant to him and how much I meant to him.

He was a collector.  He had a hutch along one wall of the living room filled with his collection of cologne bottles shaped like cars and trains and all kinds of things.  I loved it. I loved looking at it. Once in a while Grandma would open the glass doors and show me some of the bottles up close.  But mostly they just were for admiring behind glass.

He was a stubborn man.  He hated hospitals and he refused to answer the phone.  If he dug his heels in, you may as well give up.  He developed a relationship with Jesus privately which he and Grandma nurtured at home because he would not go to church.   I only remember seeing him in church a couple times as a kid--when he came to see us grand kids in the annual Christmas program.  My mom said, "He's coming because of you."  Whether it was true or not, that always made me feel special.

I remember listening to he & Grandma argue.  They would yell and call each other names...kinda like Frank & Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond...but it spite of all that gruffness on the surface, Grandpa was my grandma's biggest defender.  I always knew--you mess with Grandma--you're messing with Grandpa!  One time in particular comes to mind when Jordan, Ryan and I were staying with them and at dinner we started singing a song about eating worms and Grandma was getting quite upset with us...which only made us laugh harder.  In the end, Grandpa was the one who put a stop to it.    I interviewed them on video several years ago asking them about how they met and fell in love. The best part was his description of what he thought when he met Grandma for the first time--"Mmmmgawa!"

As a child, I didn't really think much about my relationship with him.  He was always there.  He was grumpy and would threaten us with the belt if we got too out of hand (although I only think he used it once and it wasn't on me).  But he was also always quick with a piece of candy, a hug & a smile.  As I got older--I spent more of my time with him playing Shang-Hai or talking about my kids.  He seemed to soften more and more as he got older and his love for his great-grandchildren was so sweet.  In his last couple years he loved to tell everyone how he'd sit every morning with his cup of coffee and look at the pictures of all the grandkids on his refrigerator and say each of their names.   He did this everyday and he'd tell us every time he saw us.

For me--the thing I'm going to miss most are the hugs.  His big fat, scratchy beard, sweet cologne hugs where he'd hold me so tight and laugh and say "I'm not gonna let you go."  And often I'd say back "You don't have to.  I want to stay right here forever."

I'll miss you Grandpa.  Enjoy your new home.