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A Tribute to My Gramps: Happy Birthday!

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Friday, September 16, 2011

A Tribute to My Gramps: Happy Birthday!

Today is my grandpa's birthday. I hope he doesn't care that this whole post is about him. Some people hate getting mentioned in the blog and some love it and some don't care. I hope he is in the latter two. My grandpa is a quiet man. He doesn't say much but when he does, it is either a joke or a word of encouragement. He is always ready with a kiss or a hug and often he could be found at family gatherings marveling at someone saying, "Look what you started!" Here are some things that stand out in my memory of life with my gramps.

When I was little, it was a favorite activity to go sleep at my grandparents. I usually went with Gina and she and my grandma were really close so Gramps and I became close. I loved jumping in the bed in the morning to wake him up and then have breakfast. My grams would tell me that I should be more like Gina who did everything she was told without arguing and my gramps would say, "Leave her alone. She's fine." I love my grams and miss her everyday and I know she loved me. Having my grandpa stick up for me even in small situations like that made me feel good and I never forgot it.

Christmas Eve and Easter were always at my grandma and grandpa's house. I remember my grandpa on both of those holidays either gathering everyone up to take pictures or bustling around making sure everyone was happy. He was quite the bartender and could make a mean kiddie cocktail. I still cherish those memories of the holidays with them.

Every time we'd see my grandparents which was usually once a week, my grandpa would slip me ten dollars and say, "Here. It's for cab money."

When I went to college, I was so homesick. My grandma and her sister, my Auntie Jean, would write me letters once a week. I looked forward to those letters and still have some of them. What warms my heart though, is a letter I got from my gramps. It was just from him. Not signed  by my grams. In fact, I had already gotten hers so I was surprised when I got his. In the letter he was encouraging me to stay strong. He wrote that he was proud of me. That I was setting a good example for my sisters to follow. That he knew I'd do great things. He told me how much he loved me and said that he knew I had great parents that would help me if I ever needed it but not to forget that I had him as well and that if I ever needed anything, to call  him. No questions asked. He put $20 in the envelope and said it could be our secret. I will never forget how much that helped me feel less homesick and so much love for him.

My gramps always called me Annie Banannie growing up and then my #1 granddaughter. I know it is just because I am the first but secretly, I tell myself it is because I am #1 in his eyes. :)

My gramps' love for my grams was a testament to true love. He loved her fiercely (still does and I know he misses her so much). He did all he could to take care of her even though it was too big of an undertaking. After he couldn't do it anymore, he went to see her all the time, making sure she was okay and well taken care of. It was a heavy load to have on his shoulders and he did it with the grace of a man who loves with all his heart.

Watching my gramps with my kids warms my heart. He went to one of Nico's games that was near his house and told everyone that would listen. That's my great grandson out there. He's really good. Several years later, Nico had his first game with a team that he previously didn't make. He was nervous and I was nervous. He wanted to prove that he was good enough to be there. It fell on a Sunday so all of my family went to the game (talk about making a kid feel nervous). Again, my grandpa kept telling everyone, "See #2? That's my grandson." My dad finally piped in that #2 was HIS grandson and my gramps' GREAT grandson. Nico played a great game and my grandpa said proudly and loudly, "I don't know why he didn't make this team before! He's the best one out there!" Whether it was true or not, you gotta love his loyalty and him not being afraid to voice how he felt.

These days, my gramps and I are Facebook friends chatting whenever we can and he is my biggest blog fan, still shooting me messages of support. When I think about it, he and I have a lot in common. He loves to paint (and is a talented artist) and I love to paint (wall murals...starting another one). I love to write and when my grams got sick, he wrote every single day telling what had happened that day. In a sense, it was an old-fashioned type of blog and only made available for us to read after my grams passed away.

I'm still amazed by my grandpa. He golfs 18 holes at least once a week, never misses a Sunday dinner, is the first to arrive at family occasions and still tries to make it to church every Saturday nights. So, on this day, I will say, Happy Birthday, Gramps! I love you with all my heart! I can't wait to see you and give you a big hug!


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