Monday, September 13, 2010
My Grandpa Ed Hardister passed away today, some years ago.
As I was sitting in the swing this morning, drinking my coffee, I replayed several memories he left with me.
The first thought was of course our love for the sea, the way we both came alive the minute our feet touched sand and the salt air we so sweetly inhaled.
I smiled this morning and closed my eyes and as the sun kissed my face I could almost be on that beach with him again.
Our last conversation was the day before he passed. I think he knew, I didn’t though, so I am thankful that I remember his last words to me. I will attempt to write them if I can hold back the tears.
‘Lil gal, you take care of that boy(Seth). You teach him like I taught you. Do what you want and nobody can make you happy but yourself. If you want something, go get it.”
I tried to probe where he was going with this and said “Well of course.” I had no idea why he was telling me all this now. What I didn’t know was that his body was consumed with cancer.
“Lil gal, Grandpa loves you, you know that. I have loved you ever since I first saw you.” His voice trembled.
“I love you too Grandpa, we will come down and see you soon so you can meet Seth.” Silence and then..
“I love you lil gal, I love ya”.
He hung up; 24 hours later he left me.
I say he left me, he left other people but that man.. oh that man was *and still is the greatest man I ever have known.
We spent more than summers together at North Myrtle Beach. We spent time together that made me into the woman that I am today.
I can safely say he is the only man I ever have known that has ever seen me as flawless.
To my grandpa I was the most beautiful, most important and most loved girl in the world. He set the standard pretty high for me on men.
Grandpa made me feel so loved and so treasured and for that I must thank him. He is also to be acknowledged for my charisma. I am very much the happy, upbeat, smiling talker that he was. That is a very good thing.
He taught me to be kind to everybody and to always offer a handshake and a smile to anyone, friend, enemy or stranger that came my way.
The most important lesson was to be secure in being me.
I had been out riding my bike that day, before I knew it I made a nose dive for the pavement and my little knee took the brunt of it.
I stumbled inside, trying so hard to be tough. I wanted to cry but my pride held back my tears.
He saw me; I hobbled over to the couch and plopped down beside him.
Grandpa could see my knee freshly scraped and also he could see the huge tears in the eyes of his little blue eyed buddy.
He spoke, not loudly, not a whisper, but firm enough to grab my attention.
“It’s ok to cry” he said.
I couldn’t, I told him, I didn’t want to look like a baby.
He kept going, “You can cry, its ok. We are all human, doesn’t make us any different, just don’t cry in front of everybody now. We all fall down lil gal, but you gotta get up, cry a little and keep on riding.”
I snuggled up next to him, in my usual spot on the couch. Cozy on his shoulder and arm, every once and a while feeling him pat my hair until I was sound asleep.
Complete and total bliss.
Countless times, sunburned, scraped, tired I would fall asleep next to him. Sometimes he would try to get up without waking me, to put a fresh sheet over my cold, little toes.
I slept even better. I had to have been smiling because if I stirred, and I peeked I would see through my have open eyes my big, strong grandfather smiling down at me.
Grandpa got sick and had to have his leg removed when I was a teenager. I think I was around 17 years old.
I couldn’t wait to get down to see him, and do our usual stuff.
There he was, sitting there on the couch watching the tube. I entered; I was greeted with that smile that looks very much like mine. His eyes sparkled.
I plopped down beside him, that man who meant so much to me.
I never got taller than him but now sitting beside him I could look him in the eyes.
His face saddened, he glanced down to where his leg had once been.
He wanted to cry but he didn’t want to look like a sissy and he sure didn’t want to look weak in front of me.
I went back in my mind to that bike crash I had when I was younger.
“Hey Gramps, we all fall down.”
“I know”, he replied. “I lost my leg lil gal, I can’t..” He trailed off.
“Hey, you gotta get back up you know”. I told him.
His radiant smile returned.
No more words.
I leaned over, threw my feet up beside me on the couch and snuggled his shoulder.
I glanced at his tan, weathered face, I saw his tears.
I said one more thing to him.
“Hey Grandpa, from here you look like always, two legs. Your shoulder and lap are still just the same”.
I fell asleep and I think he did too. Complete bliss once again.
Life is gonna knock you off your bike, its going to hurt, tears will fall, but are you tough enough to face it and keep riding?
Just don’t let everybody see you cry, especially those dumb ol boys as Grandpa called them.
Hey Gramp, I am still riding and smiling. Teaching Seth and Luke the best way I can and hey I still don’t care what people think. I hope somewhere, somehow I am making you proud, and I know I am, I can feel it.
Love you and you would get a kick out of my ring tone, its Poker Face, it reminds me of you, to keep on smiling even when I want to cry.
Here are my thoughts. Happy Day All.