Monday, May 21

Farewell to a King

My dearest Grandpa-

It was late Friday evening in Milan, Italy when we got the call. [Don's brother] in Maryland had managed to track us down via Skype and with [his] Mom on speaker phone from Utah we had a Transcontinental-International phone call. I thought it would tickle you to know that this call was actually made through the computer. For a man who spent years laying cables and checking miles and miles of phone line, I figured the idea of this wireless phone call would make you smile.

But it wouldn't be possible to share that with you. The news from the across the pond was that you were slipping from us.

We scrambled to dial out to the U.S. to reach you in the home, hoping that we might get the chance, with a telephone held to your ear, to say a last I love you and tell you goodbye.

But you were already gone.

Quietly, silently, peacefully.


Immediately the tears poured and I let them come, unhindered, undirected, uninhibited. I cried alone. I cried with my husband. I cried with siblings across the sea. In truth, I haven't stopped crying since the news came in. And it's fair to say that the emotions accompanying the waterfall have been as diverse and innumerable as the tears themselves. I cry in grief, in joy, in peace, in celebration and in sorrow. Most of all, I cry for the missing of you Grandpa.

I cry remembering you.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am not an actual flesh and blood granddaughter, because I have never felt anything but unconditionally loved and adored from the moment I stepped into your Mesa home more than 20 years ago. As I have reflected often over the years since first meeting you, and Grandma, I know I am deeply blessed to have had your influence and your love in my life. My relationship with you has been everything a granddaughter ever dreams a friendship with Grandparents could be. Ours was a reality which because of circumstance and illness, I wasn't so fortunate to have with my own grandparents. But I had you.

I had you to talk with for hours on end after Grandma's sudden passing 10 years ago. Our weekly dates for lunch, or a quiet walk, or holding hands on the living room couch are priceless treasures to me.

I had you to teach me that jalapenos are meant to be snacked on like candy, eaten straight from the jar. And that any meal could be improved by adding a side of pepperoncini. I am certain that my pregnancy craving of a hot dog smothered in jalapenos has a direct link to your training of my taste buds.

I had you to challenge me to wonder about where I came from. Your standard question when meeting new friends was "Who are your people?" and it sent me on journeys through journals and family records to understand who I was by understanding who had preceded me.

I had you to share a little "spanish food" such as refried beans, mexican rice, enchiladas or salsa and chips from your favorite El Charro a few blocks from your house. And we could share an order of tamales hand-made and delivered by one of the women in the neighborhood.

I had you to teach me about the nuances of The Lawrence Welk Show broadcast every Saturday evening from the local PBS station.

I had you to "halvers" the last piece of toast, or the last scoop of scrambled eggs, or the last slice of pizza with me.

I had you to smile with as each of my three babies arrived and I placed them into your large and loving hands for the first of myriad kisses and squeezes which would follow. Soon they would know a great-grandpa who loved them intensely and unconditionally.

I had all of this and so much more. As fast as my thoughts spin now through the memories, I know there will be many yet to surface that I can hold in my heart. And with each blessed recollection, I know there will be tears.
Tears of honor, of happiness, and of longing.

I cannot stop them falling Grandpa, and I cannot imagine when it will feel okay to wake up in a world without you. But I want you to know that I love you deeply. I love you fiercely. I love you without end.

Your darling,


  1. OH I'm so very sorry for your loss of this precious man to you. You have my deepest sympathy. Here's hugs across the sea ...

  2. That was so I sit here with tears streaming down my face thinking about my own grandpa and how much I love and cherish him. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  3. Dear Jenn,
    My heart was breaking for you as I read this post. I know how very hard it is to be missing someone so much. I lost my mother last year. You have wonderful memories to help you keep him close to your heart. He sounds like a wonderful man.
    You have my deepest sympathy.


  4. Oh, Jenn...

    My heart is breaking for you - and soaring after that wonderful tribute. How you are able to verbalize all of that so soon is beautiful and amazing and I feel absolutely no shame is crying along with you.

    What a marvelous celebration of his life and your stunning relationship. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. Peace to you. Ken

  5. Oh Jenn. This was a beautiful tribute to him. It sounds like his life was so rich and your memories of him are so sweet. I'm sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how greatly he will be missed. My heart and prayers are with you as you and your family get through this.

  6. These wonderful memories show all too well how great a loss you are feeling. I'm so sorry. You have my deepest sympathy.

  7. I'm new to your blog, but I wanted to say how sorry for your loss...

    What a beautiful tribute to this special grandfather in your life.

    This was just so beautifully written and obviously straight from your heart, as well.

    God bless!

  8. Beautiful tribute, Jenn. How wonderful that you had this incredible man in your life. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  9. It sounds as though you were blessed to have each other in your lives.

    Thinking of you.

  10. Makes me wish I had the chance to know him. Having lost a father who meant as much to me as your Grandpa meant to you, I understand your loss.

    There is an Irish saying:
    Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.
    Love leaves a memory no one can steal.

    I know your Grandpa left you with lots of memories...

  11. Hi Jenn,

    I am very sorry to read about your loss. You described a wonderful man. I hope that the treasure of memories you have, will be able to comfort you a bit, no matter how great the loss is.


  12. Oh, I am so sorry! My heart breaks for you, and I am totally crying now. Because, after almost 10 years, I can't help but cry for my own grandfather. I miss him so much and wish he could have seen the most recent great-grandchildren. My heart is with you! ::hugs::

  13. I'm very sorry about your Grandfather, Jenn.


  14. I had to stop reading this half way through, I felt my throat tightening by the second paragraph, as it is too similar to what happen to me this December.

    When I arrived in Lhasa, which I was so excited about, I got a call from my Mom, on my Skype phone to tell me about my Grandpa.

    I'm sorry it's an experience we have to share. I really am.

    I'll be thinking of you.

  15. Jenn - I'm so sorry to hear about Grandpa from Mesa, but I'm so glad you got to visit him when you were last here.

    What a king to remember. What a farewell he'll cherish. What remembrances you'll treasure.