Grandma and Grandpa just celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. I can remember celebrating with them from about year 40 onward. I remember cleaning out and washing the exterior of the trailer by their house and making a sign that said "Happy 43rd Anniversary." Or was it 45? I guess I don't remember that well.
One year, actually, many years, G'pa was in Canada fishing with the guys on their anniversary. One of those years, G'ma decided she wanted to go to the stock car races. The local gas station was running a special where you could get a free ticket to the races when you spent a certain amount on gas. She saved her receipts for weeks and on their anniversary all of us went to the race track at New Symrna Beach. The ticket woman informed her that the receipts are only good the week of purchase. Oh. We headed back to the car. Suddenly G'ma stopped. "It's my anniversary and [darn] it, I want to go to the races. So we went back and went to the races.
I've also been thinking a lot about G'pa. Two things really.
Today in church a man spoke about his mixed emotions in getting ready to send his daughter to college. When I went to BYU, G'ma and G'pa drove me out to Utah. It was our annual summer trip that year. We had a great time--visiting their friends in MI (where we borrowed a little trailer for all my stuff. It was affectionately nick-named the "coffin" b/c of how it looked being towed behind the motor home. G'ma loved how I would run into the bathroom every so often to check and make sure it was still there. G'pa loved telling people I had so much stuff we needed a trailer to get it to UT. He liked to forget the fact that the motor home's bathroom was stuffed to capacity with aluminum cans that he was taking to MI for the extra 5cent deposit.) Anyway, we went a lot of places and saw a lot of things. And then we got to Provo.
G'pa was hurting for coffee in the student cafeteria to go with his cinnamon bun. He thought he could ask for some. I assured him that would not help. We camped in Provo and spent a few days getting books and any supplies I would need for my dorm room. (They even bought me a verboten goldfish, which really didn't last long. I used the bowl for cookies later.) Then came move-in day. G'ma loved that everyone thought Stacy was the student. G'pa was quiet. We went out for dinner and then they brought me back for my first night in my new home. I was feeling excited and nervous. Said goodbye to G'ma. No problem. Said goodbye to G'pa. Problem. He started crying. Crying! My grandpa. I didn't stand a chance after that, and we both stood there blubbering. For what seemed like a long time. I don't even remember how we managed to finally say goodbye, but I do know that much later that night when I was visited by my head resident, she didn't even say "Hi," she just hugged me and asked what was wrong.
A few weeks later G'ma and G'pa stopped by to visit on their way home (a trip to Hawaii was in between) and there were no tears at that goodbye. I was happy and adjusting. He was glad to see it. No more worries.
The second thing that's been on my mind, has actually been plaguing me for a year and a half, ever since G'pa's funeral.
The pastor gave us all time to share a memory or a story about G'pa. When he did this at G'ma's funeral, no one said anything. (I think we were waiting for others to share first, but no one did and then the pastor moved on.) We all felt badly about it and were determined not to make the same mistake again. Mom even shared a story about G'ma at G'pa's funeral before she shared one about G'pa.
Most of the stories shared were funny. He was a funny man. In word and in deed. One man shared how he went to the bank with G'pa and waited in the car for about 20 mins. When G'pa came out he was laughing, "wrong bank." So they went to the right bank and after about 15 mins G'pa came out again. Again laughing, "forgot my wallet."
Stacy gave an amazing eulogy, in which she shared many stories, including one of my all-time favorite G'pa stories: the story of the snake in the cans. It involves a gun and a lot of running.
I had shared a few stories in my "eulogy," and was okay with being quiet now. But then, towards the end, my idiot uncle stood up to share. He started off with what seemed like a real story, but soon it was obvious that he was just telling a joke. Ick. Not wanting to end with him and his stupid joke, I shared another story, a true story.
I told about the time we were in Mexico and he and I took a walk late at night. There were a lot of stray dogs, some of them quite big. After being startled by one a little closer than we were comfortable with, G'pa found a very large stick. I asked him what he was going to do with it, he didn't answer, just urged me to keep walking. A few minutes later we heard snarling and barking, very close. He, with his big, heavy stick, jumped behind me. When we realized the dog was behind a garage gate, and could breathe again, I turned and asked, "What are you doing?!" He responded, "I have a better shot from back here!" We both laughed, he put down the stick, and we quickly returned to our friends' home.
After I shared, Stacy's husband Josh was to sing. First he shared a message about G'pa being both strong and gentle. Kind, too. Stacy said later that Josh told her the last speaker made G'pa into a joke and he couldn't bear for G'pa to be a joke. She said the last speaker was Chuck.
It wasn't. It was me.
And while I do think that Josh was referring to Chuck's stupid, inappropriate joke, I wonder if others think I was also making fun, or making G'pa into a joke.
Mom told me not worry about it, b/c my story was a true story. But I still worry. Not b/c of what others think of me, but b/c of what it might make them think about G'pa. Or how I thought of him.
I should have shared my BYU drop off story. But I knew at the time I could never get through that.
But there were others, lots of others I could have shared. So I'm haunted.