Wednesday, October 10, 2012

we gather, we remember, we honor, we love

Memories of Grandpa...

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. How frustrating it must have been for Grandpa to lose himself in a fog of forgetting. Our memory defines us and shapes our character. It's my job to remember Grandpa now. To remember him bent over, nailing in the floor planks for our newly constructed home. To remember how he let me comb his hair and even style it with my toy curling iron. To remember that he held me and loved me. Grandpa, I will always remember you, and can't wait to meet you again.
~ Jane

When I was a baby, Grandpa would hold me on his lap and say: "Grandpa-Grandpa-Grandpa!" in a funny voice. That made me laugh and laugh. I would try to imitate him, but I couldn't say "Grandpa-Grandpa-Grandpa", so I would say "Bodger-Bodger- Bodger!" I used to say that all the time, and everyone started calling me "Bodger". That became my nickname because of my Grandpa.

If there is one person who I wish I could get to really know, it would be my grandpa. I want that so bad, since I know what an amazing, wonderful man he was. My memories of Grandpa are just random tidbits, but they are all happy ones. He was so happy to see me, and would love to listen. Even in his last years when he was going through such a tough time, he would love to listen to me, smiling up at me from his bed, as I told him about basketball or my life or whatever; even though he wasn't really understanding. I know he was happy to just listen. I love my grandpa and always will.
~ Sam

One of my favorite things about Grandpa was his way with animals. I have some very faint memories of his dog Sage sitting by him in the front room. But what I remember most is how much our dog Lucy loved Grandpa. Whenever Nana and Grandpa would come to our house, Lucy would get so excited. She would leap up onto Grandpa's lap and lick his hands and wag her tail. She wasn't like this with any other person outside our immediate family except Grandpa. He was one of her favorite people and I think she sensed his loving spirit.
~ Eliza

... Many of you grandkids might remember him as a grandpa who sat quietly in his chair and didn't interact much with us. Don't ever think that that's all he was. Our Grandpa was vibrant - full of life, light, and love. He loved his grandchildren dearly and took interest in our lives and the little things that were important to us.

 He loved to play with us. He taught me the names of the mountains around the Salt Lake Valley. He let us play with his hair. Grandpa was an awesome man. Our grandpa knew how to do anything. He could woodwork. He had a green thumb and could make anything grow. He knew how to train your dog. He knew how to rock a trucker hat before they were cool. He knew how to build you a kite. He could teach you how to tie knots and braid lanyards. He knew how to lay tile and wood floors. I remember him doing a silly dance and song, stamping his feet on our freshly laid tile to get it to set. Can you imagine that? He knew how to make babies laugh.

Grandpa knew how to make you feel special. When I was in Cub Scouts our pack had a cake auction. Grandpa drove an hour down to my house and together we decorated the most brilliant cake I had ever seen. It was shaped like a clown face. He was an artist and a teacher. He taught me all these little tricks of the trade like how to spread the frosting just right on the sides of the cake. I think our cake raked in the second highest bid at that auction. I felt so proud of my Grandpa.

He knew how to make you feel special. And even in the end he still knew how to light up and give you a beautiful smile when you walked into the room and woke him up. Those smiles were a beam of sunshine that shone through his clouded mind and in those moments you could see the true Grandpa - full of light and love and so happy to see you. That's how he really was. Nana used to wrap me in her wonderful hugs and whisper in my ear, her voice choking up, "You always be proud of that name Gary Crofts. You never forget who your Grandpa was."

We don't have to worry about losing the real Grandpa. For the first time in years Grandpa is now his real self, freed from the bonds of mortality. He and Nana now are having a joyous reunion, not only because they're back together but because for the first time in years they're back together as the real Gary and Wilma with no disease to get in the way. This is the happiest time in their lives. Nana can finally see her sweetheart how he really is after all that time of having to hold onto memories. They can enjoy each other and laugh together. All this means is that we're one step closer to having the real Grandpa back. Next time we see him he'll be his old vibrant self and for many of us that will be the first time we know who he really is....


Portrait of  Grandpa as a young man
by his granddaughter Eliza