... 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