They say that the average attention span online these days is less than a minute, so when I write I usually say something I think is interesting and move on. Today though, my heart is heavy and I have a story that I need to tell. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, so thank you for always listening, even when I get a little emotional and wordy...
Let me start by saying that life can be pretty amazing, but unfortunately it can never last forever. Everyone who is born will eventually have to die. When life works out right you get to spend many years with the ones you love, and those who came before you, but eventually you have to say goodbye. It's never easy, but it's something we all must face.
So why is the passing of my grandma, who lived a long, successful, love-filled life any more important or sad than anyone else's? It's not, all death is sad, it just happens to be one of the most important people I had in my life, and it is somewhat therapeutic for me to write about what I am feeling. I am blessed to have an outlet, and people who care about what I have to say.
My story of Grandma Dorothy could fill up the pages of a chapter book, but I'll keep it brief...
For all of my 30 years on this earth, sometimes without even knowing it, she was my best friend. Everyone loves their grandma, but for whatever reason the stars aligned and Grandma Dorothy and I had a connection unlike any other. I loved her, and she loved me... Sometimes so much that it was probably annoying to those that talked to her, because boy oh boy did she like to brag. Sorry about that!
As far back as I can remember, being a young boy, there was nothing more special than a camping trip, a night at the bingo parlor, or simply a sleepover at Grandmas house.
As I got a little older into my school years many of my favorite things were her getting off of work early every Thursday so she could pick me up from school and go have coffee, playing computer games that sometimes resulted in bruises because we were both so competitive, and spending hours on end in the kitchen learning how to make the best food I've ever had.
During those younger years, tragedy struck as my grandpa, Grandma Dorothy's love, got cancer and died within months. On the day he passed, the last thing he told me was that it was now my job to take care of grandma and the dog, Daisy, they had at the time. Through tears I promised him I would.
With that promise, my relationship with Grandma Dorothy only got stronger. In the 11 plus years since my grandpa's passing, there were no more than a handful of days that, at the very least, I didn't have a talk on the phone with her.
We still did all the things we had done before grandpa's passing, but we added thousands more memories in those years as well. From once in a lifetime concerts like the night we saw Randy Travis to guest appearances on some of my first radio shows as my "celebrity football picker", there was nothing important I did in my life that she didn't have a front-row seat for.
Just a couple short years ago, I ran into some hard times in my personal life, and with grandma getting older, we decided to become roommates. I ended up living with her for almost three years, and I can honestly say that those three years, living with a woman in her mid-70's, were some of the best of my life. The dinners, the shoulder to cry on, the nights staying up until 2 in the morning listening to music on YouTube, the jokes, the stories, the arguments, and I could go on. It didn't matter how late I got off of work, or how late I stayed out with friends, grandma waited up for me every single night I lived there. The memories and the love I felt in those three years will last me a lifetime.
As a man in his mid-20's I eventually had to make a life for myself and leave grandma's house. We still had our moments and many other good times, but with age and illness, a year after I left she had to move to an assisted living facility. She made many friends in the year she was there, and seemed content, but it just never was home. It was hard for her, myself, and many other family members because the things we all enjoyed the most just weren't possible anymore in a place like that. We all made the most of it, and looking back, made some great memories even in that last year.
A couple of weeks ago grandma got sick and put into the hospital. We thought we lost her a few times in those weeks, but she always seemed to bounce back. In the times she was feeling good, we had some great chats and shared many memories. Unfortunately every time her condition flared up she fell into a deeper hole. I know the fighter she was, so I held on to hope that she would get better the whole time, knowing she had done it so many times before. Sadly, my mom, my sister, my aunt, and I watched Grandma Dorothy take her last breath peacefully in her bed on Tuesday night.
To be honest I could never imagine my life without her, and I still can't. I am sad, and don't really know how to carry myself right now. I do know that time is all that can fix a lot of things, and having faith that she is now reunited with grandpa in a better place will keep me going. I just know that my next thirty years will not be as wonderful as the first thirty for the simple fact that she won't be here by my side for them.
Life must go on, and although it sounds cliche, it is what she would want. I also know that in my travels moving forward there is no better angel I could ask for to cheer me on, pick me up, or just watch over me than the one I gained this week.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you. That means more to me than you'll ever know.
For those who may be reading this that knew my Grandma Dorothy or want to help in remembering her with me and my family, there will be get together on Tuesday (May 9th) at 2 p.m. at Adamson's on 20th St. and 47th Ave. in Greeley. There we will share more stories, play some of her favorite music, and enjoy her favorite pie from JB's. I hope to see you then.