I’ve been staring at my keyboard all morning trying to figure out the best way to start this post.
My first draft was talking about all the home movies I have from my childhood because my Grampy had gotten a camera before one of his visits and didn’t put the thing down the entire time he was with us. There’s this great moment on one of the tapes. Grampy is standing at the top of the hill that our house sat on and he’s filming me and Megan walking up the hill from the school bus. Megan walks up first and Grampy asks her, “Where’s your sister?”. Megan points behind her and casually offers Grampy an oyster cracker from the bag she’s snacking on. A few minutes later I come waddling up the hill carrying not only my backpack, but Megan’s as well. Grampy thought this was hysterical and instead of rushing to help his six-year-old granddaughter carry one hundred pounds worth of school books, he kept rolling… and laughing. Grampy never really babied me the way other family members did. He knew a secret about me that I don’t even think I knew at the time. He knew I was a lot tougher than I let on.
I erased that opening. The words didn’t seem to do this post justice.
My second pass at it was all about leading a double life, in the best way possible. For as long as I can remember, our family vacations during the holidays and over the summer involved a trip to Missouri, where my mom is from. We’d spend weeks there at a time because there was always a lot of (very different) ground to cover. We’d usually start at my Grammy’s house. Grammy’s house was big and looked like a page out of a Martha Stewart magazine and it always smelled like something was cooking or baking. Most mornings I’d be woken up early to go shopping or on some sort of girly adventure. After a few days in the city, we’d pile in the car and make a two or three hour drive to Grampy’s house, in Osceola, Missouri. Population 400 (and I think that’s counting the people in the cemetary). Grampy lived on a dirt road in a cozy three bedroom home that was decorated with collectibles and memories. We’d sleep with the windows open in the summer since there was no A/C and I was always surprised by how silent everything was at night. I’d get woken up early in the morning to ride ATV’s or go fishing. Shoes weren’t a necesity, unless we were going to walk down the dirt road to the country store on the corner for an ice cream cone. That was real country living and I loved it. I loved my double life.
Backspace, backspace, backspace. The above still didn’t seem quite right.
How do I write about this? What am I supposed to say? Why did I think this was going to be easier than it’s been?
My Grampy died. He had been sick for a long time. He was placed into hospice care a few weeks ago and we were all told to prepare ourselves for what was coming and I thought I did. I thought I could handle this.
I knew Grampy wasn’t happy just lying in a bed. He was an active guy and always on the go. He also had an incredible amount of faith. All of us knew he was going to Heaven and he was looking forward to it. I know my Grampy is probably up there fishing with Jesus right now and he’s probably the happiest he’s ever been.
Then why is this still so hard?
He was my favorite person in the entire world. He was the funniest, sassiest, strongest, most gracious, person you’ll ever meet. He was my biggest fan. He sat through countless dance recitals, and concerts, and school plays. He never let me quit, even when I thought I wanted to. Just hearing him say “I believe in you”, kept me going for another day. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m never going to hear him say that again. I dreamed about taking him to a movie premiere or watching my latest TV show with him. I guess there was still a lot I was hoping we could do together.
I do know that I’m lucky to have been able to share my faith with him because I find some peace in knowing that he will still see everything I accomplish in the future. I know he’s watching over me and everyone he loved. Heaven definitely gained an incredible angel this week.
Heaven also gained a comedian. I think everyone that knew Ralph Kleechultee has a favorite joke he told. As hard as it was to start this post, I think the only appropriate way to end it is innappropraitely, with the last joke Grampy Ralph told me.
A woman had a prize winning schnauzer. One day, the woman took her schnauzer to a competition in Kansas City and for the first time the dog lost. When the woman asked the judge why he said it was because there was too much fur in between the dogs toes. The woman went to the pharmacy to buy some Nair to remove the fur from her schnauzer’s toes. When she was checking out, the pharmacist told her, “you know when you use this, you can’t wear stockings for a week”. “Oh it’s not for my legs”, the woman replied. “Well then you can’t use deodorant for a week”, the pharamcist informed her. “No. It’s for my schnauzer”, said the woman. “Well then you can’t ride a bike for a week”, replied the pharmacist.
Yup. That was my Grampy’s sense of humor. I guess no one needs to wonder where I get it from now….
Rest in peace, Grampy. I know I’ll laugh with you again someday.