When I shared with my co workers and friends that my grandpa had passed, the first question they all asked was, "Was he sick?" And the answer is "No, he was not sick. It was unexpected." The next question was, "How old was he?" "Grandpa Don turned 91 in July." The expression on the their face changed slightly as though because of his age it should have been a little expected, so without them even asking the next question, I answered, "You had to know him to understand that he may have been 91 but he wasn't that old." He had faced death before and triumphed over it.
11 years ago we had almost lost him, but he knew he wasn't ready to leave and fought through. Grandpa Don still had a lot to check off his list. He still had to become a great grandpa to 5 babies. He also had to get to know all of them so he could torment and tease them appropriately. He had to see all of his grandchildren graduate high school and move on toward obtaining or very closely obtaining a college degree. He had to welcome his oldest two grandchildren back to the Midwest, while saying good bye to Lauren, Andy and Chris who moved away to start their own chapters in life. He had to see my sister Jennifer, get married. Grandpa had to help direct the box traffic while I moved into my new house. He had to earn the title of "Best Grandpa in the World." An honor bestowed upon him by my son Parker, because he knows how to fix everything. Grandpa still had 11 years of memories to make with his wife. For us, he would live through anything. For us, he was going to outlive everyone. For us, losing him at 91 was a huge shock.
The days since the phone call from my dad have been a different experience than before for me personally. The tears and thoughts that I expected have not come and I wonder why. I have concluded that, while my life will not be as complete without my grandpa, I know that his life was complete. I am sure there was a final thought of wanting to tell grandma he loved her one more time. I am sure he thought of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren before his energy left his body. But my Grandpa Don had an amazing life. He created an amazing family. He left a legacy behind him that will make his essence immortal. Think about what we were each doing at the time he passed. I was leading a Cub Scout meeting. I was doing something that he would have been doing. I was acting out a part of my personality that reflects a part of his. My dad was traveling in Utah for motorcycle races. My aunt Nancy was traveling to New York to see her son, Chris. My sister Lauren was sailing and watching the sunset in the San Francisco Bay. Jennifer had left work early to have an at home date with her husband. Aunt Sally was running errands to help out her sister and her father. We were all doing something that we can attribute back to grandpa. We were all living out a piece of something he gave us. His death is different for me because I believe he was ready. I know he lived his life they way he wanted. He turned every handshake in to a friendship and explored every corner of this earth. He had an amazing wife/ partner/ best friend to travel with and to create a clan to be proud of. I am sad that he is not here. I am sad that I won't hear the sound of joyful surprise in his voice when I call-he always knew my voice. I am sad that we don't get another Don Moyer repair or story. But I am so grateful that I had the chance to have him around for 30 years. I am grateful for all the parts of his personality and the values that he passed to me. I am grateful that he had such a complete, loving and happy life; knowing that his life was fulfilled makes me able to accept his passing more than I have accepted those lost before him. He had a full life before the last 11 bonus years and I think we did a good job of making these bonus years exciting for him. I will miss you Grandpa- there is no doubt, but thank you for everything Moyer that you have given me.
(Photos are credited to my family who posted them on Facebook and I stole them from their facebook pages....thanks family!)