My grandpa who has been very sick and hospitalized the last few months, finally passed away today. I say ‘finally’ as he had bone marrow cancer, severe pneumonia and heart problems and has just been miserable.
Below is a story I wrote to him for his 80th birthday. Tomorrow he would have been 82.
It seems like I spent more time growing up at Grandpa’s house than my own. While I have both good and bad memories (being hung by the meat hook and learning to swim by being thrown into the pool – both by Grandpa), the good definitely outweighed the bad.
I loved going to my grandparent’s house. The first memories were at Reedview. There was always someone there and I always had fun. Sometimes Grandpa would have the sheet strung up in the garage and he would video tape all of us singing and dancing (and sometimes even picking our noses). We would go swimming in the pool, watch movies, or Grandpa would teach us how to gamble. And why not? There was a mini-casino in the play room complete with roulette and craps tables, a slot machine and even a pool table. When I would spend the night, we’d always go out to breakfast at Bob’s Big Boy.
Holidays were wonderful – always a packed house. At Thanksgiving, there would be tables full of food, and people everywhere. One year Grandpa decided to have a “Turkey of the Year” award. He knew everyone would vote for him, so he made the prize a hundred dollars.
Christmas Eve was a night to remember… with either Great Grandma R playing the piano or one of the kids using the player piano rolls. Everyone would sing along. We would go back Christmas morning to unwrap our presents. They were always very generous. One year grandpa had a tree decorated with a deck of cards!
My friends loved going to Grandpa RC’s house. We’d have swim parties there and everyone loved RC.
Grandpa even built us a tree house with a racetrack around it.
When Grandpa and Grandma moved to MV, there was even more stuff for us to do. By that time he had a Bingo Board, and he would let us invite our friends over to play. We would take out the pink hippo around the lake.
It seemed like twice a month we had get-togethers… either for holidays or birthdays or weddings.
Vacations were the best. The year I was old enough to go river rafting, Grandpa broke his leg going down the river, and where did he go to recoup? Yes, Reno. Then we went to San Diego. Then we went to Hawaii. I remember being on a bus going to a luau, and Grandpa got the whole bus singing… “Oh, you can’t get to Heaven”. The next year we went on a cruise from Florida to Nassau. I remember being at Disneyworld and Grandpa rented a wheelchair for us to push him around in.
How lucky I was to have grandparents that threw Halloween parties for their grandkids. When I was about 14 they told us we could each bring 4-5 friends. They had the whole house decorated, complete with a graveyard in front. There was a DJ and we danced all night.
I wonder if anyone else has a grandpa that eats cereal over ice cream for breakfast.
When I was 17, we were on Family Feud together – FOUR TIMES! I’m so glad I was included in that. It was so fun.
Grandpa always told me I was his favorite… but don’t tell the other grandkids. Well, one day the grandkids were talking amongst themselves and it seemed that Grandpa told ALL OF US that! Hmph! When I talked to him about that, he told me that “I just tell them that so it doesn’t hurt their feelings…. You’re my real favorite.” I know he was telling me the truth.
Over the years my mom has told me stories about her grandparents. I can’t wait to tell my children about my memories of growing up at Grandpa’s house.
Grandpa, thank you for giving me such wonderful childhood memories. I love you!