It is with an ache in my heart that I write today.
Four years ago I lost a great friend, my grandfather.
I will call him SAM.
SAM was a good man. He wasn’t perfect, had many flaws, but his family loved him still.
He was the father of 6, my dad being the eldest.
His first wife, the mother of his children, passed away from cancer .
His second wife, the grandmother I knew, passed away 2 years before he did.
He served in the Army & fought in Normandy, France during WWII.
He used to do some boxing while in the military. Almost made golden gloves.
I can remember listening to SAM & my father swapping military stories when we’d visit.
I can remember a cute little house my grandparents had lived in. The first home of theirs that I can recall.
I was all of 7 or 8 when we went out for a visit. I can remember helping my grandmother feed the birds. The snow was deep, very deep; it was up to my chest. So we had to wade through the snow to put oranges out for the Orioles & corn out for the other birds.
There were many family Christmases in that house.
Shortly after my dad retired from the military, we moved back “home” to be near family.
My grandparents had moved into a new home several miles north of the old house.
Their new place was on a lake.
SAM enjoyed fishing. I can still see the many photos of fishing trips he had gone on. Some were with my father. They always seemed to do well.
I remember several times each summer the entire family would visit my grandparents. We all enjoyed fishing, boating, & swimming.
But most of all my grandparents enjoyed playing cards with us. SAM loved Cribbage the most, I think. He and my father played often.
I had learned to play a bit, even though I struggle with correct counting of points.
SAM invited family over often, for his Famous GUMBO, and of course playing cards after.
So many great memories from the house on the lake.
Some memories are a blur, as I had grown up, moved away & got married. After a few years in a bad marriage I moved back home. But while I was gone, my grandparents moved [together] one last time.
SAMs health began to dwindle after some stressful periods.
By that time grandma wasn’t well. She developed alzheimers & was living in a nursing home.
But my grandfather stayed true to her. Every day he visited & had lunch with her, sometimes even feeding her by hand.
Shortly after my grandmothers passing, SAMs health dwindled even more.
[By this time, I was remarried with 2 children.]
SAM started having heart problems. His blood pressure was already high.
Then he started having bleeding issues… bruises would appear out of nowhere.
He went to the doctor and they ran some tests.
After a few weeks they found a leaky valve in his heart.
Another week went by and he was having other problems. The doctor did some tests and examinations and found that he had colon cancer. They said it was operable but they didn’t know if his heart was strong enough for the surgery.
Two more weeks go by and they finally decide his heart was ok, so they did the surgery.
The surgery went well to remove all of the cancer, but something happened during surgery.
SAM stopped breathing.
SAM died on the operating table. Not once, but twice.
They were able to bring him back both times, however, the 2nd time he would not regain consciousness.
He was now in a vegetative state on life support.
After three agonizing days, the family decided to let SAM go.
I can remember that night. I knew the family was gathering together at the hospital. But I had no idea what was happening or when.
I do, however, remember this:
My husband was at work, our son was watching tv & I was sitting on the couch, changing my 12 month old daughters diaper.
Suddenly I started humming “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Immediately I looked up at the clock: 6:27 pm.
Days later, visitation & funeral plans were being made, and I was talking with my mom about everything.
I asked her if she knew when…
She told me they disconnected everything around 6:15 and it was between 6:20 & 6:30 when he took his last breath–it blew my mind. Then I told her what happened on that evening with me. We both cried.
I miss you Grandpa. I was the only one in the family that you gave a nickname to, so I feel we had a special bond.
We had so many good times. There are so many good memories.
You will always be in my heart. I can’t wait to see you again.
I love you.