I have mentioned him before. I grew up with my grandparents living right next door. They were like a second set of parents to me and my siblings, except they didn't ground us or give us chores. In fact, most Saturdays I was usually trying to beg off doing chores so I could go shopping with Grandma, or go to Burgerville with Grandpa. My grandpa was the one who taxied us kids around to school, to games, to play practice, to our friend's house. He took us trick-or-treating on Halloween, took us to Toys-R-Us for Christmas. In the summer he paid us a dollar for every row of corn we weeded, and in the school year he paid us for every A we got. He bought us cars when we graduated from school and made sure that we had good tires and kept the oil changed. He was a great dancer, and I was lucky enough to dance with him at my wedding.
He saw all ten of his grandchildren graduate from college or finish a professional training program, and got to hold all twelve of his great-grandchildren when they were babies.
He was part of what Tom Brokaw calls The Greatest Generation.
He and my grandma flew down to Florida on Thursday to visit my sister. Even though my grandpa's health hasn't been good -- he doesn't walk too well these days and his heart isn't as strong as it used to be -- they really wanted to see where she works, where she lives. Gramps and my sister spent yesterday watching basketball games on TV, their favorite activity. It was what we called "a good day" for Grandpa.
My dad called me this morning to tell me the news: at the age of 89, my grandpa passed away last night in his sleep. We've known since his last heart attack that every day we had with him was a gift, something extra.
I'll miss his daily emails. His pinches on my elbow. His stories about his life. I'm thankful he got to see Sydney, and I'll have great stories to tell her about what an amazing great-grandpa she had.
There's no tragedy in this, just sadness. Just a big Grandpa-sized hole in my heart.