Saturday was my Grandpa’s birthday and although he passed away in January, the family wanted to honor him one last time. He was cremated and my grandmother wanted his ashes spread up in the mountains at his favorite hunting spot. His four sons, including my father, and most of the cousins got together early on Saturday morning and made the long trek up to Mount Rainier. The road up to the hunting spot was gravel and bumpy with many pot holes, we took four large trucks and no small cars would have made it. The road was one way and very narrow with huge drop-offs on one side. I’m glad I wasn’t driving, I would have freaked out.
Anyway, we all made it safely up to the hunting spot and no one really knew what to do next. The uncles talked about the old days when grandpa and grandpa great would take them all and hike up this mountain to hunt for a few hours. Back then, the road wasn’t there and the hike up took about 6 hours. My Uncle Gary, the eldest son, decided on a spot to spread the ashes and he dumped Grandpa out after saying a few words. The ceremony was poorly planned and I would have liked to have said a few words myself, but Grandpa still would have liked it.
Saying good-bye has not been easy and I miss him with each passing day. I find it hard to visit Grandma sometimes knowing Grandpa isn’t going to be sitting in his chair, pretending to ignore everyone. He wasn’t the most social man I’ve ever known, and ever since his stroke in 2003 he spoke even less. I thought for sure he would outlive everyone in the family and it is strange that he is gone. Sometimes, I think he is just at the hospital or somewhere else and I just keep missing him. Other times, I remember he is gone and it hurts my heart.
I can remember when I was younger; we would always avoid Grandpa. He seemed to be so gruff all the time. He would come home from work and we would run to play upstairs or outside. Even if we had been playing in the living room all day, when Grandpa came home, we vacated his chair and left the room. He wanted to eat his dinner and watch the news. As I grew older, I grew less and less afraid of him. Grandpa never hurt anyone or yelled at us, he was just a rougher type of man who never quite knew how to express emotions.
I guess it was when my family moved in with Grandma and Grandpa that things changed. I was a sophomore in high school and we were having a house built. The house we lived in sold faster than expected and we were left with no choice but to move in with the grandparents. Things were awkward at first, but it was the best experience of my life. I developed a bond with both my grandparents that I didn’t have before. I started talking to Grandpa and asking him questions and always greeting him.
That relationship lasted through the rest of his years. I never stopped saying “hi” when I saw Grandpa. I would hug him, whether he wanted me to or not. I would say “good-bye” when I left. Though, I am no longer 16 years old. The years have passed far too quickly and now I can no longer say “hello” or “good-bye” to him or force hugs upon him. I miss him, but his memory will forever live on. Rest in Peace Grandpa, until we meet again.