Papa Don

 

How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard

— Winnie the Pooh

My heart is aching, yet I feel at peace. It was a beautiful April morning, when grandpa took his last breath. It was a day that he would have loved; a warm day full of sunshine. I had 1 grandpa who I only met once, which made it impossible to have a relationship with him. But ever since I met the Mindemann family, I was shown so much love and grandpa’s love made up for my lack of having a grandpa

I’m lucky to have had 18 years to get to know this wonderful man who called me his granddaughter. He had a wealth of knowledge. He was a steamfitter by trade but there was nothing that grandpa didn’t know. He brought me into this family with open arms and offered up plenty of things to for me to learn from him. He loved being a teacher. From teaching me a rousing game of spoons to understanding the fundamentals of electricity, his patience in explaining the details showed no bounds.

When I think of grandpa, I think of how much he loved seeing us and the kids. The first time I met grandma and grandpa, my car dripped oil on their cement driveway. I felt terrible! Grandpa didn’t seem to care at all about the stain. Instead, he began to teach me about oil filters and how to read the oil stick properly. He quickly tightened up my oil filter and my problem was solved. Little did I know that this was the first of many things he would teach me.

He had 2 great grandkids: Madelyn and Asher. He nicknamed Madelyn,  Esmerelda. It was how he endlessly teased her in order to get Madelyn to come out of her shell around him. Well, that and candy. Whenever we would come over with the kids, he would get outside and find something for them to do. They’d walk around the grass with him or he would throw out the basketballs and lower the hoop so Madelyn and Asher would be able to make a shot. They’d chalk up the entire driveway with rainbows, hearts and letters and once they accidentally stained it for a few days. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t mind. They just love seeing them happy. Grandpa would dig around in his shed to see if there’s a bike or a motorized little car that the kids were big enough to ride in. He would make sure the kids had fun. Even if that meant that he’d turn on the hose for them to spray each other, and everyone else, with. He loved listening to their laughter. You can tell it made him happy. One of the last things he said to me was “I’m happy that you’re happy. Thats what makes me happy.”

He was always bringing over a tool or saw of some sort for Dave. He loved teaching us what he knew about them all. I still don’t think I hold a wrench correctly 😁. I could hear him tell me that I’m holding it wrong and I need to flip it. Sometimes I’m a slow learner, but he would just tell me again. I don’t think that Dave would have such a love of building if it wasn’t for grandpa always bring over these tools and teaching him what he could make with them. Grandpa was always found tinkering in his garage making something. From flag poles and basketball hoops to wagons and pulleys, he could make anything. I know he was so proud of Dave and that he was so happy that he was able to pass some of his loves to him.

Grandpa was such a great storyteller. He was so enthusiastic. He’d lean over the table and have a huge smile on his face as he set the scene for you. He could recall every detail of the day in which his story took place. There were stories about being  overseas in the army, playing golf or horseshoes with friends or about jobs he had. There were times I had no clue what he was talking about since a lot of them pertained to working as a steamfitter, but you couldn’t help but listen to his enthusiasm and try to pick up the rest of the story after all the technical info passed.

I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with grandpa the week before he died. I was able to hold his hand and tell him numerous time that I loved him. Even if he was barely awake, he would quickly respond with “I love you so very much”. He would tell me how much he loved my smile and that he’s thankful that I came to visit. I tried so hard to not cry in front of him, but that was impossible. He was an amazing man. One that I will think of often and miss terribly.

I give you this one thought to keep – 
I am with you still – I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the sweet uplifting rush,
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone – 
I am with you still in each new dawn

—unknown

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