Our children had four grandfathers because of our unique blended family. If you don’t already know our story read it here. Hank is my first husband’s father, and he was the last one of the grandpas to die.
That was three years ago today, and it was one of my hardest losses. Here are a few of the reasons I loved him:
- When I was dating his son, he accepted our relationship before anyone else did. He was willing to acknowledge that his son loved me, despite me being seven years younger and having braces on my teeth!
- Behind his WWII era stoicism, he was a softy inside – maybe that is why he made such a good medic during the war.
- Working with my father for years at the Wisconsin Gas Company, he never spoke an unkind word about my dad’s struggle with alcoholism. Hank knew that our parent-child bond grew deep despite the dysfunction in our family; he always respected that relationship, but allowed me to vent when needed.
- Almost three years to the day after Hank’s wife dies, his son Chris passes away unexpectedly. Although deeply saddened, Hank survives and continues to be the patriarch of his family.
- Talking openly about my grief after Chris died he was able to share his pain with me, both of us sharing memories.
- He embraced my new husband and daughter when I remarried, and incorporated them into his family.
- Hank was the roaming photographer during visits and holidays, documenting all the people and events in life that meant so much to him. Asking us every time he viewed a picture, “Did you write the date on the back?”
- Lighting up every time one of us entered the room, Hank was always happy to see you and loved to play host.
- He served as an example of good citizenship by obeying the law and paying taxes. And when you wanted to complain, he told us to write our elected officials, which he often did.
- He was a wonderful grandfather, his five grandchildren and great-children being his pride and joy. He attended every birthday, confirmation, graduation and many sports events throughout his lifetime.
Ageing with dementia, life became difficult for Hank during his last years, robbing him of his easy-going and caring nature. At first, it felt like a blessing to me when he passed. His daily struggles were over and he no longer had to endure the pain that comes from life’s losses.
Hank was reunited with his wife, his son, his parents, siblings and multiple friends. Heaven rejoiced. Days later, I fell apart.
The reality that I once again must say good-bye to another piece of Chris felt like a baseball bat hitting me behind the knees. I buckled once again under the stress of grief; once again, I learned how to get up.