This past week I got the call (...email) that I've been half expecting - and dreading - for a while now. My grandpa Robbie had passed away Monday evening.
Robbie was not my "biological" grandfather, but you'd never have known the difference. My Papou passed away when I was only two and, unfortunately, I have no real memory of him outside of pictures. While I've always loved my Papou and wished I'd have had a chance to know him, I was lucky enough to have someone like Robbie take on that role.
(I've always called him Robbie, for no other reason than it just fit. 'Grandpa Robbie' always felt redundant, it was just a given and I didn't need 'grandpa' tagged on. I've never called any of my grandparents "grandma" or "grandpa" and 'Robbie' just became his title as well as his name.)
I've always had memories of Robbie that were the first to come to mind when I thought of him. I've been surprised over the last week at all the things I'd 'forgotten'. Of course I didn't forget them, but it seemed like one memory pulled up another, which pulled up another. I was amazed at all of the little things I remember.
He was just so....JOVIAL. I just always remember him smiling, and telling jokes, and laughing. Everytime I picture him in my head, he's smiling. He had a way of being silly with us without being over the top.
Growing up, my brother and I visited my dad's family out east every summer, and every year, we'd talk to Nana and Robbie before we'd leave. Every time, he'd tell us that he'd been out to check the temperature of the pool, to make sure it was warm enough and ready for us. When we'd get there, we'd go out to check the pool thermometer. It was such a small thing, but it became a ritual I almost expected.
I think of him every time I eat a hamburger. I remember one summer when I was probably...10? I was with him out on the deck, while he grilled hamburgers for dinner that night. Out of nowhere he told me the hamburgers wouldn't cook right if we didn't dance. "You have to dance sarahlee, or they'll be ruined!", with faux-urgency in his voice, and started humming and dancing in front of the grill. And he was right, worked like a charm.
He always called me Sarahlee. Always. Sarahlee and Charlie Brown (my brother, Aaron). I don't know that he ever used our actual names :) Whenever I'd walk into the den "heyyyyy sarahlee!"
He used a cane and I can remember him aiming it and making machine gun noises with it. I can remember sitting on his lap, and how he chewed Wrigley's spearmint gum, and putting pennies in an antique golfing 'piggy bank' he had, going to the 4th of July parade, the time I went golfing with him ("golfing" used loosely when referring to myself), and how he had away of putting excitement into everyday.
The last time I got to see Robbie was 4 years ago. On one hand, I'm sad I didn't get a chance to see him again, and for Zach to meet him. On the other hand, time had taken its toll on him, he'd had strokes over the years that had gradually worn him down. The last couple of years were not his best. I'm glad that when I think of him, I think of him dancing in front of a grill and laughing with a 'hoo-hoo' that he did sometimes. I don't think of him as a frail body that had had enough.
We're flying out for the service, and while I wish the circumstances were different, I am looking forward to the trip. Its been 4 years since Eddie & I were out east and I miss it every day. Zach's never been to the beach (a sandy spot along the Mississippi river is NOT the same!) so I intend to fix that. The weather may not be the most ideal, but I'll take it. We'll get to see Papou & Yaya, Zach gets to meet Nana (his great-grandmother) for the first time, along with aunts and uncles who we haven't seen in 3 or 4 years. We'll only have a few days, but I intend to make the most of them! (I'm hoping to acquire coffee syrup, local yarn, and possibly a bit of beach glass.)
On that note, I should be packing, and getting haircuts, and finishing the last minute plans. (Like, how we're getting OFF the island...lesson learned...make sure you check the right dates for the ferry schedule...) I better go do that, huh?