My Grandfather is in his last stage of life, and I am struggling to say good-bye. I consider myself lucky enough to have bonded with him over home style lunches, and many years of bowling. Although he is not my biological Grandfather, I have known and loved him since I was six years old. The amazing thing about this man is that from the moment my Mother married my Stepfather, Grandpa adored my Mother. As "outsiders," we easily could have been the black sheep of the family, but this was never the case! I will never forget the nicknames and true affection that this man showed my Mom from day one. (I cannot tell you my Mom's nickname as it is their story to tell, but my Mom has always taken it in stride and 26 years later, it is something they smile and chuckle about.) My Grandfather was never an overly affectionate man, but I find joy in knowing that he allowed me to kiss him on the cheek, whenever we would part.
Grandpa Dale was a Brick Mason, bowling alley owner and operator, businessman, Master Mason, held memberships over the years with the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and yet he was never boastful about any of these titles. He found joy when with friends, peace while fishing, and loved bird watching. It was often a struggle to get him to talk of the old days, but when you asked him very direct questions he would give you details of his life that I just recall hanging on every word. One of my favorite stories was of his wedding day, and wearing blue suede shoes, just because he could!
So, this brings up the question...How do you say good-bye? How do you thank a man for raising my Father to be the amazing man he is? How do you tell someone that it is because of him, that I cannot go bowling without thinking of Maple Bowl, a business he put blood, sweat, and tears into for 25 plus years? I loved that his little bass boat was the center of countless family fishing trips and memories. How do you begin to explain that the night he gave my Grandmother a strand of pearls for Christmas, is a memory I will never forget? How do you thank a man for adoring your Mother, when he easily could have been put off by her and her little girl?
I am holding these countless memories, very close to my heart as our family will have to say our final good-byes in the coming days. I send my love and thoughts to my family across the miles, wishing I was there to whisper these many memories and simple acts of gratitude in his ear. Thank you Grandpa Lee, for loving each of us in your own way. You have loved, and supported your family in the best possible way with every fiber of your being. You can rest now, your labor is done, and we all thank you for all you have provided. Good-bye doesn't begin to define the love and gratitude I wish to convey. Good-bye Grandpa and farewell; until we meet again, sending my love your way!
April 10, 1933 - January 17, 2013