On Wednesday, April 10th 2013, just three days shy of his 93rd birthday, my dear sweet grandpa was reunited with my cute grandma.
The night before my grandpa passed away, I went with my brother and his wife to visit my grandpa in the hospital and to say goodbye, because we knew he didn't have much time left. He had been diagnosed with cancer shortly before his passing and it had spread throughout most of his body. Because of this, he was pretty sedated with medication to help ease the pain. I don't even know if he knew we were all there. My cousins brought Maggie in to see him, but he could not stay awake enough to realize she was there either. Before we left, I kissed him on the forehead and told him I loved him. He very quietly whispered back, "Love you too." I am so grateful for that experience and that those were the last words exchanged between me and him.
I've been so full of mixed emotions since his passing. Even still, almost 10 months later I still tear up sometimes when I remember he is gone. I no longer have any grandparents here on this earth and that is a very weird feeling.
I grew up only five minutes away from my grandma and grandpa Wonnacott and have so many fun memories with them. I spent a lot of time with them and at their home. Whether it was sleepovers when I was young, visiting for holidays, playing with cousins or playing with the puppies, I have nothing but the best memories a girl could have of her grandparents. It's still weird to think that I will never visit their cute home again. There was always such a happy, peaceful feeling there. My grandparents were the epitome of the perfect grandparents and true examples of love, kindness and generosity.
So many fun memories on that patio and in that yard.
I miss them terribly, and have moments where I am so sad about losing them, but I feel so happy every time I think about them being together again. I'm sure my grandma was ready for my grandpa to join her and I think he was ready to be with her again as well.
I think their story could be a Nicholas Sparks romance novel/movie.
They grew up across the street from each other and attended the same schools and ward and graduated high school together. When my grandpa was 21, he was drafted to serve in World War II. He was gone for four years, and during that time, he and my grandma would write and he would send money home whenever he could. My grandpa's mother took my grandma to go ring shopping and they used the money my grandpa had sent to pay for the ring and that is how they got engaged. They were married soon after his return in the Salt Lake Temple. They raised four wonderful kids and many, many animals.
I am so grateful for their decision to be sealed in the temple. Because of that choice, I know they are together again. It is such a blessing to have the knowledge of eternal families. When I find myself feeling so sad that my grandpa is gone, I am comforted when I look at the big picture and remember that death is not the end.
When I blogged about my grandma's passing, I made a list of my favorite memories of her and I would like to do the same with my grandpa.
-His favorite drink was Dr. Pepper. For the past several years, I would give him a case of Dr. Pepper for Christmas. As I walked into Target this past December and saw the displays of soda, for a brief moment I thought, "I should get grandpa's Dr. Pepper while I'm here." I quickly got a lump in my throat and remembered he is enjoying his Dr. Pepper in heaven now.
-He loved to whistle. He also loved to sing "Younger Than Springtime" from the movie South Pacific, but he only knew a few lines so he would just sing them over and over. I have memories of hearing him whistle and singing outside my bedroom window when he would come plant flowers in our yard when I was young.
-Pigeons....where do I begin. My grandpa had a fondness for pretty much all animals (except for cats!), but he especially loved birds. He raised homing pigeons and had a pigeon coop above his garage. He entered his pigeons in races and could sell his best pigeons for good money. Whenever I hear the cooing sound that pigeons make, it reminds me of being at my grandparent's house, as that was a constant sound in their yard. When we were young, he would bring pigeons down from the coop and let us grab them by the wings and let them fly out of our hands. Pigeons will forever remind me of him.
-Speaking of animals, I will never forget the Christmas that my grandparents got Maggie. We were all at my grandparent's home visiting with family on Christmas day and my cousin's wife was telling us about how her sister was looking for a home for her 7 month old toy pomeranian. She was hoping to sell it for $100 because she had paid several hundred dollars for it. My grandparents had pomeranians for several years while my mom was growing up, so they always had a love for that type of dog. After hearing about Maggie needing a new home, my grandpa said, without consulting my grandma, (haha) "Tell your sister I'll give her $200 for the dog." A few days later, cute little Maggie joined their family. She was the perfect companion for my grandma while my grandpa was busy tending to his yard and his pigeons and she was a perfect companion for my grandpa after my grandma passed away. And of course, without Maggie, we would not have our naughty little Elle Woods.
-My grandpa was an avid Utah Jazz fan. He would watch just about every game and knew all of the player's names. After my grandma passed away, Josh and I went and watched a few Jazz games with him. He was definitely one of the team's biggest fans.
-He would always say "I've seen better heads on cabbages" when a new baby was born or when one of the grandkids was dressed up for something. He was joking of course, but that was one of his signature sayings.
-He could be gruff and stern about some things, but he had the biggest heart. He was always so generous to everyone.
-He loved flowers. He always had the best yard on the street. He had a greenhouse attached to his home and he would take care of his flowers and plants all winter long. Since Josh and I moved into our home almost 3 years ago, he was nice enough to share some of his extra flowers with us to plant in our yard. This year will be our first year without grandpa's flowers.
I could go on and on about my dear sweet grandpa. He was truly a remarkable man. I am so grateful for my amazing memories of my grandparents. I miss them terribly, but find so much comfort knowing that they are together once again. I hope I can make them proud. I hope and pray that Reese will have the kind of experiences and relationships with her grandparents that I had with mine.
I love you, grandpa!!