November 9, 2012


Today marks a difficult anniversary for me. Today marks the two year anniversary of my grandpa's death.
It is still a hard thing for me to talk about. I mean I can talk about it, but the emotions are still somewhat fresh and every now and then grief will hit me harder than it may have the day before. I guess that's the weird thing about death, no matter how long someone has been gone, you will always miss them. It may not be in the same emotion of missing them (i.e. crying) but you still miss them. Tonight we are going over to my grandparents home to have a family dinner and to laugh. See as Olsen's, laughing is what we do best.

Two years ago, on this 9th of November, the old man who would make dog barking noises to fool his grandchildren into thinking there was a dog, the old man who would tap you on the opposite shoulder he was standing by so you are now programmed to look the other way, the old man who would knock under the table to make you think someone was at the door; passed away. It was the stormiest of fall days, wind was strong, the sky was dark and the rain was pouring down. I will never forget that day. Not for as long as I live.

Let me tell you some things about my grandpa Bob...
   First thing, he was hilarious.  My grandpa never missed a beat with whitty comebacks, or just teasing people in general. He never did it in a mean way, it was always funny. He didn't let people take themselves too seriously. He accepted people for who they were. He always was the first to greet new people at church and got to know the new faces as soon as he could. He was good like that, accepting, friendly and always making people laugh.
   Second thing, he loved his family. He didn't show it in a affectionate let me hug you or hold you sort of way, he showed it in his teasing of you, or being curious of your life plans. He was supportive and encouraging of what you wanted to do and see in your life...and would reply with "Well good, I'm glad you're going there, I am never leaving my house." and then laugh at his own joke.
   Third thing, he was happy. My grandpa loved his life, you could tell. He loved my grandma more than anything (they were married for 57 years), he loved his children, he loved his grandchildren, he loved where he lived, he seemed really content with his life. He loved photography and new technology. I can't really explain it, but I never saw my grandpa upset.

All of his relationships with his grandchildren were a little different. My relationship with my grandpa was a funny one. I mean that in a ha-ha sense. I told you he teased people, but he really teased me, and I think that is because I could dish it right back. My family says I had very similar humour to my grandpa, and I love that. One of my favorite memories was when I was about 15 and I went over to my grandparents with my dad on a Sunday afternoon. We were all sitting in the living room and my grandpa looked and me and said "How's it going K?" and I replied with "Not too bad, G." That was one of the first times I remember making my grandpa laugh so hard he lifted his head back and made the loudest laugh I had ever heard him make. He called me Kate sometimes and I told him "ie" and he would laugh. I told him "my name is Katie." He continued to call me "Kate-ie".
There are more stories obviously, but I am not going to share them all, he was a phenomenal man and it wasn't until I was about 17 that I realized he wasn't just an old guy, he was a man with stories, history and a lot of knowledge. It's funny how when you get to a certain age your grandparents become more than just old people who give you money on holidays and cookies when you visit, they become people who you have the utmost respect for, people who you can learn from.
My grandpa fought in WWII, underage and aboard a navy ship in the pacific. He was 17 when he joined and his mother finished high school for him, she took notes on the material and when he came home from war he got his dipolma. My grandpa told us stories of being in the huge typhoon where many sailors went overboard, he told us stories of when he controlled the gunner and wasn't supposed to look up but one time he did and he saw a Japanese plane get hit and that was the last time he looked up. My grandpa's stories never got old to me no matter how many times he told them. That was another thing he was good at, story telling.
Basically he was a man I looked up to. Who learned a lot from, how to treat people, how to live my life. I miss him everyday. I think about him everyday.

My grandpa got sick in July 2010. He had been have troubled for about a year with his memory and having these horrible headaches. He had many doctors appointments, but they could never pinpoint exactly what it was. They believed it was a fungal sinusitis.
He was in high spirits after they let them out of the hospital after a few days. A week later he had a dizzy spell, and he went back to the hospital. They didn't release him for a while. He was then moved to a rehabilitation center and was in there for a few weeks, that was the first time my parents told me he was not in the highest of spirits. When I would go visit with my family or after work, my grandpa would act like his old self, teasing me and the whole family was so happy that he was acting like himself. In fact one time the nurse came in to check my grandpa's eyesight, she was a more bustier woman, she stood to the side of my grandpa and said "Can you see me?" and my grandpa replied with, "Well, I can see a part of you, but I won't say what so I won't get into trouble." My grandma laughed so hard! It was hilarious!
One of the only times I have seen my grandma laugh like that.
After he was released from the rehabilitation center, he was sent home, where he mostly slept and ate and slept. Months went by and we found out that he wasn't going to get better. Hospice brought in a weekly nurse to help with my grandpa. It was the hardest thing to see him become so weak. My grandma (an 83 year old woman at the time) was his full time nurse 24/7, feeding him, moving him around the house, making sure he took his medicine. My dad & mom and my dads siblings along with their spouses all helped, taking weekly turns to take care of him. We'd have nightly dinners over there. It was our way of staying strong and giving support.
My grandpa got weaker and weaker, thinner and thinner. That was really hard to see. However, whenever I came over, the family would put a chair next to my grandpa for me to sit in and I would just sit there talking and joking with my grandpa, mostly making faces at him and him returning the favor. As time went on, his voice began to go as well, so making faces at me were his specialty. He even tried to kick me. Hahhaha!
We sang hymnals around him every night the last month his was alive. He could still hear music, and would tap his fingers accordingly.
The night before my grandpa died, we were seated around my grandparents room, my grandma was holding my grandpas hand eating her dinner. Dessert time came and everyone left the room except for me and my dad, my grandma left too. My grandpa, we could tell, wanted to hold someone's hand, so I went over and held it. He opened his eyes and looked at me and my dad. He closed his eyes again. Water filled my eyes, so I looked away. My dad asked if I was ok and I nodded. Then I felt this squeezing of my hand and looked over at my grandpa, he made a face and managed a smile. I squeezed back and returned a smile.
I will never forget that memory, it will forever be precious to me. I took that squeeze and silly face as my grandpa saying it was going to be okay.
He passed away at 4:30 pm on November 9th. Surrounded by his wife, his children and their spouses and our pastor. I was able to say goodbye to him but I did not want to be in the room when he passed, but I did sing out in the living room when they were singing hymns to him. I miss my grandpa more than anything. He meant the world to me and I think about him everyday. I am in awe by my grandma with how strong she is and I appreciate her more than I think I ever have.
That's that folks. My grandpa was a great person. I am sad I won't ever get to introduce him to my future husband, or anyone else new that comes into my life, but the memories I have of him are precious to me and that's all that matters.


Estefanía Ainoza said...

Great pictures!! I love it!!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Kate-ie!