Little farmer boy.
During WWII Ned was in the Marines.
Not too long ago, walking around the farm with his pitchfork.
My last good-bye. I needed a picture of his hand.
I'm not sure how to write this without crying and at the same time do it justice. Here goes :)
This man is my Grandpa Ned. He passed away at home, peacefully on January 9th. He was 87 years old and he was ready to go. Ned was born and raised a farmer. He worked hard every single day of his life. About 3 years ago he had a stroke that took its toll on his little body and made walking a difficult and painful thing. He would curse his legs daily which was sometimes funny and a lot of the time heart breaking. I've never known a more independent, stubborn man. I spent a lot of my childhood out on the farm with my grandparents. Not so much actually farming - cows and I didn't get along well. But I would say we slept there at least one weekend a month and spent many other days there. It was usually my 2 older brothers & I and 2 other cousins that were always with Grandma & Grandpa. I have so many memories of wonderful times there.
For the past 3 years I've tried to spend as much time with my grandparents as possible. Sometimes life got crazy and I wouldn't see them for a few days but it was never more than that. Mondays were usually Burger King days. Tuesdays were either Sonic or Great Steak. Wednesdays were, without a doubt Joe Banditos. Every single Wednesday we'd go with Aunt Marilyn and whoever else could come. The waiters all know us by name and have our order started as we walk in. Ned loved their chips and salsa. He would just concentrate on eating that. Thursdays were Burger King again, we had a lot of Burger King. Fridays were Chuck-a-Rama days. The weekends were a toss between Burger King again and another round at Chuck-a-Rama. They eat out a lot! I, on the other hand, was usually just along to be chauffeur - I can't eat out that much & Grandma's driving is....questionable :) But every time I would walk through that door Ned would say, "Well hello there girl". Like he hadn't seen me in months, like for that moment I was the one that brought a smile to his face. If Grandma was still in bed we'd sit and talk. At the time it was just getting glimpses into his past and getting advice for my future but now....now, those talks were everything. He always told me he loved me. He always asked how my little family was doing. He made me laugh with his funny little anticdote's, he continually thought people were trying to steal from him. He recently told me that "Someone stole my shovel right out of the ditch". We would always reassure him that no one was stealing from him and everything was ok. On December 9th he was taken by ambulance to the hospital for severe pain. He came home the next day and we got some home health care to come in and help. I have a good friend that owns a company called iCare. I can't say enough or give enough praise to these people. One week later he was going down hill fast and we had iCare bring hospice in. They were so loving and kind with grandpa. I can't ever thank them enough for the respect they showed and the sincere love they had for both of my grandparents. We knew we had only days left. My aunt flew in and we all stood vigil by his bedside. But no one was there more than grandma. What an example of love, kindness, and commitment. She took such good care of him. I got to have a moment alone with him the day before. I told him how much I love him and recalled some fun memories. I held his hand and he smiled. My mom and aunt were there with Grandma when Grandpa went early that Wednesday morning. Death is a funny thing. I knew he was going and I knew it was time. I even knew he was wanting to and I know where he is. But I wasn't prepared for the heartbreak. Yes, he was old and yes it was time but those two things haven't made it a whole lot easier. Planning a funeral helped at first. The funeral turned out wonderful. I was able to go and cut his hair at the mortuary the day before. That one act was so very hard but I knew I needed to do it because I've cut his hair for a long time now. My mom and dad came too. I think it was good for me & mom to get the shock over before the viewing. Grandma wanted a tractor embroidered on the inside of the casket - who'd have thought :) My brother, Danny was Ned's right hand man. Danny found Ned's cattle brand and all of the boys got together and branded the casket. It was awesome. We put Ned in his nice farm clothes with a toothpick in his pocket because he always had one there. Family came from all over the country. Grandma's birthday was 3 days after he died. We were all there, something that hasn't happened in more than 15 years. She loved it and it was a great night together. My mom...there aren't words for her either. She has been there every day for everything.... doctor appointments, financial needs (helps when she works at the bank), grocery shopping, arranging for house maintenance, and just checking in every single day. I hope that my kids can show that much love when I need it. My cousin Brent and his family have been wonderful as well. They live right across the street from them which put our minds at ease. They are great people that were always there for whatever they needed right then.
So to wrap it all up - Grandpa is gone. I love him and miss him every day. I am so grateful to have had him in my life. I will always remember the big things and the little things. Like I've told my kids who were so sad, Grandpa is our angel now.