Tuesday, June 19, 2012


When I was 9 my Mom and my stepdad Keith got married. That day I gained a stepbrother (Brandon), a slew of aunts, uncles and cousins, and also two wonderful grandparents.

My grandparents, Grandmother and Grandfather, are two of the most special people you will ever meet.  They have been married for 55 years (in November) and are the most Christian people that you ever hope to come in contact with.  Everyone loves my grandparents and everyone knows who they are. 

On June 8th my Mom texted me and said that my Grandfather was in the hospital getting some tests done on his heart, but I didn't think much of it since they were just tests.  Then she called to say that he was having open heart surgery the next Monday. Huh?  I thought it was just tests!

Grandfather had the same surgery 4 or 5 years ago but at the time he didn't have many veins to work with.  When he was in the Air Force he had varicose veins so they stripped them out.  When he went to have the surgery, they didn't have many veins so the surgery wasn't quite as successful as it needed to be. This time however they had flown in veins from Atlanta so they knew they would have some to work with.  Before the surgery we were all joking with him that he probably would be getting a rapper's veins and he would wake up wanting an Escalade and a grill. :) haha.

On Monday we all got to the hospital and waited to see how he was doing.  The surgery went well and we went to lunch for a break.  When I was coming in from running an errand my sister called to say that he had just had a heart attack and wasn't doing well.  I rushed inside and we waited. About 7:45 pm I decided to head home since he had become more stable.  Tuesday and Wednesday were up and down days but mostly stable and there was no need for me to leave work to come up there (but my work would have been 100% understanding for me to take off).  I thought he was on a road to recovery.

On Thursday morning at 4 am I got a call from my sister saying that he hospital called and that everyone needs to get to the hospital as soon as possible and that he had taken a turn for the worse.  My sister said she was on her way and that she would call me if I needed to drive over.  I decided I wanted to come anyway so I emailed my boss (I couldn't call since it was 4 am!) to let him know I wouldn't be in and got dressed.  On the way there I stopped and got breakfast tacos for everyone.  When I got there we all talked and waited for the doctor to come talk to us.  What had happened was that the pump that had been placed in him wasn't strong enough and they were going to switch out the pump for a larger one.  His blood pressure had also been going up and down and the medicine they had been using to stop it was not working.  The surgery went well and the doctor said that there was still hope.  Around lunch he was doing a bit better so my sister Laura and I went to get something to eat.

We were sitting in the Mexican food restaurant when my Mom called Laura to say that we needed to get back asap and that he wasn't doing well.  I was eating chicken soup with vegetables and got a weird feeling staring down at it.  I honestly don't think I will ever want chicken soup again. :/  We got our bill and drove back to the hospital.  We saw our little sister Tori crying downstairs (everyone was on the 4th floor) and asked what was wrong.  Apparently the larger pump stopped working and his heart couldn’t beat on its own.  Before he went in he had told Grandmother that he didn’t want to be hooked up to machines keeping him alive so they agreed to let him go.  Around 1:30 or 2 pm they decided that it was time to let him go on to Heaven.  We all got to say goodbye and it was heart wrenching.  This was the first grandparent that I have lost, and also the first person that was close to me that has gone.  It was a sad day.

(Obituary from the paper)

Afterwards we all went back to Grandmothers and just talked about our memories of him.  So many people brought dinner (I think I have gained 5 lbs this weekend) and came over to pay their condolences.  I went home that night and cried.  Jabba just laid at my feet by me at the end of the bed while I cried myself to sleep.  The next day I was going to get dressed for work, but I just couldn’t go in.  I went over to my other grandparent’s house and took my Maw-Maw to Hope Village to eat lunch (she had wanted to go ever since I had first wanted to go).

On Saturday I wanted to get out of the house so I called Brandon (my stepbrother) and we went resale shop shopping and to the zoo!  The zoo was fun…I saw FLAMINGOS (and some other animals).  The entire time we kept telling stories about Grandfather to each other.  It was a fun day.  When we were going home I got a call from my friend Debbie and she invited me to a play.  I had kept myself busy all weekend because I didn't want to be alone and think about losing someone I loved.

Sunday was Father’s Day so we took my Dad to Bingo (we didn’t win) and afterwards I went back over to Grandmothers to be with my family.  A few people had flown or drove in that I had never met, along with my Aunt Kay cousins Jonathan and Grace.  It was great seeing everyone.

Sunday night I went to stay at Laura’s house (my Mom’s house was full) and played with the boys (Cole loves peek-a-boo) and woke up the enxt morning ready to go to the memorial service.

I woke up around 6:30 to shower and get dressed.  Hunter wanted pancakes (and I wanted iced coffee) so I went and got everyone breakfast from McDonald’s then we headed to the funeral home.  They had the burial first, then the memorial service at Spring Baptist Church.  The memorial was packed with family and friends.  We sat up front closest to the stage, next to all of the flowers.  My work had sent a really pretty plant and there were about 15 other arrangements on the stage.  Keith’s (my stepdad) entire team (U.S. Marshall’s) came to support him, along with other police officers.  My Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw had come also and they sat next to me.

The service was beautiful and uplifting, just has Grandfather would have wanted it to be.  There were so many jokes and funny stories told about him.  Each son, daughter in law, and grandchild had written something about Grandfather and they read what we had written.  The service ended with an uplifting song and the family went out to the lobby, then everyone came up to us and hugged us.  Afterwards we had a huge lunch and ate tons of food!  I was still full from lunch at 9 pm.

I headed home around 7 pm and Jabba met me at the door.  I picked him up and hugged him (my friend Sarah had fed him on Sunday night and Monday morning while I was away…Thanks Sarah!) and he had lots of things to say to me.  This morning I went to work as usual to get back into my regular routine. 

At work today everyone came up to me like I was so fragile and like they didn’t want to upset me.  Honestly though, I am really ok.  It’s weird but I really ok.  I miss him and have cried a lot during this past week, but I sort of feel at peace.  He was 78 years old and had a great, fulfilling life, but he was ready to see his Mom and Dad again.  God wanted him in Heaven. 

I know that he heard "Well done good and faithful servant" when he entered the pearly gates. :)  In his prayers he always said “God please guide and protect our loved ones wherever they are” and I know that Grandfather is up in Heaven with God helping guide and protect me.  Thank you Grandfather for loving me and mentoring me, you will forever be missed.

Here are some memories/stories about him that I thought I would share.

Christmas-Every Christmas Eve we all went over to their house and Grandfather would read the story of Jesus’ birth to us.  He had a box with gold, frankincense, and myrrh and would show all of us (I remember thinking that was so cool when I was a kid).  Then Grandfather would pass out presents to each of us one at a time and say ‘Is Stephanie here, I haven’t seen her’ then we would say ‘I am right here’.  After everyone had gotten a present we would go around again.  “Is Stephanie still here, I think she must have left”  then we would say “I am right here!” and roll our eyes.  It went on for a while.  Even though I would roll my eyes, I loved it.

Gum-Grandfather always carried around Wrigley’s gum in his pocket.  Yellow, Red, White, Green, and Blue (not sure what all the flavors are).  Anytime we wanted some gum he would pull all of them out of his pocket and ask us which one we wanted (Me?  Green or blue please, not red-YUCK!). 

Coke-When my parents first got married I went to Grandmother and Grandfather’s house and they asked me what I wanted to drink and I wanted a cherry coke.  They didn’t have one, but the next time I came over they made sure they were stocked up with cherry coke (and have been for the last 21 years that my parents have been married).  It is sweet that they cared enough about me to get what I liked and keep it there for whenever I came over.

Laugh-Grandfather had the biggest laugh and it sort of sounded like Santa! I will remember that laugh.

Who let the dogs out-Grandfather heard “Who let the dogs out” and for YEARS he would go around the house singing “Who let the dogs out” then would (really loud) go Whoo Whoo Whooo. LOL.  It’s was really funny.

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