My mother’s parents were both heavy smokers. Grandma was hooked on cigarettes, grandpa’s demon was cigars. He accidentally burned a hole in my terry cloth shirt when I was about 3 years old. Fortunately I didn’t even notice, but it scared him really bad. He suffered from emphysema, which was probably caused by working as a sailor with the United States Navy.
Used to help him at his last civilian job as a cemetery grounds keeper at the local cemetery in the town he lived with his wife. He was very good at keeping the site clean and ready for funerals. There was a wasp’s nest in the shed were they stored all the cleaning supplies and lawn mowers, etc. He had asked the cities board to have the nests removed before a mourner got accidentally stung. He was deathly allergic to their stings, too. One day while my mom and grandma were away shopping an hour or so away, he was baby sitting me for the day. We went out to the cemetery to clean up from the previous day’s funeral. I was picking up the trash left in the grass when I felt a stinging pain, and my breathing throat started to choke off my air ways. He was no where around, I felt faint. Ended up unconscious on the grass where I had fallen! Good thing he saw me go down. He always kept an emergency supply of epinephrine on him, due to his allergies. He injected me with the drug. Then got me sitting up. Told me to stay where I was while he shut off the machines in the area.
He came back to where he had left me. Was starting to feel a little better. He helped me walk over to his pickup truck. We got in and he drove back to his house. He made lunch for the two of us, while keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn’t have any bad reactions to the medicine he had given me.
Years later, I left home for college. Went out of state, to get away from my parents. His health unfortunately was deteriorating. He made me promise not to get married until I graduated from college. Dated a round in college, until I met a guy that reminded me of my grandpa.
Fell in love with the guy’s voice. When we met for the first time, I was over the moon in love! He looked just like the pictures I had seen of my grandpa when he was our age. Both were 6 foot 3 inches tall with dark black hair. Even the musculature was the same!
Got him to visit my home town with me once. My mom approved of him. My father hated him (plus in my opinion!). Introduced him around town to the few friends I had left there.
My junior year in college, he moved into my apartment with me since my roommate was leaving. My mom knew and approved of the decision. Wasn’t too long and I asked him to marry me! He flat out turned me down.
Next time we went back home, he wanted to ask my father for provision first before asking to marry me. Told him if he did that, I wouldn’t marry him! If he wanted to ask someone, then he should ask my grandfather! Grandpa had finally given up his cigars. So when we went for Sunday lunch at my grandparent’s like normal, I left him with grandpa at the kitchen table alone. Explained to my grandma what was going on in the kitchen. Grandpa made him promise not to marry me until I had graduated and never to leave me heart broken.
He came back into the front room of my grandparent’s house smiling! We drove the 6 hour drive back to out apartment with the left overs from my grandparent’s house safely packaged in a sealed container.
He proposed to me ring in hand, the day before a big physics exam. Needless to say, I failed the test! Had too much on my mind. I wore my engagement ring to work the next day without telling anyone, to see who would notice. My coworkers and my boss wanted to know when we were getting hitched.
We literally ended up getting married the day after I received my diploma! Rehearsal was the day of graduation, since my godparents were going to be there anyway (my godmother was the organist for our wedding). My grandparents from my father’s side were there. Some of my coworkers attended. My grandparent’s from my mother’s side were both in too bad of health to make the journey.
My grandmother from my mom’s side of the family ended up in the hospital for problems with her lungs again. My mom had to take care of my grandpa while she was hospitalized. Eventually, grandma was able to return home to her husband. She told me I was not to visit my grandpa anymore, because he gets too worked up from seeing me.
I moved away to the Chicago metro area of Illinois, because I had gotten a new and better job. Stayed there for 18 months, then moved to Colorado. That was 1998. We started purchasing a older home in Aurora, CO. Grandpa was still not doing too well. The terrorist attack on 9/11/2001, just about did my grandfather in! His breathing was getting worse by the days. He had real trouble talking on the phone, because of lack of breath. Constantly hooked up to oxygen now, but grandma kept smoking away!
One day, got this really bad feeling something was wrong with my grandpa. Tried calling my mom. My father answered the phone telling me she was in at my grandparent’s house because grandpa was having real extreme breathing problems. I was not supposed to be bothering them right now.
Found out he passed away that evening. My father got mad at me for having these premonitions of my grandpa passing away. Apparently, good Christian people should not have these types of feelings. Asked him to let me know about the funeral arrangements.
Grandpa visited me in my house and told me not to let the local VFW get involved in his funeral and he was feeling much better now! My husband and I made the trip back to IL for a final time. For some reason I did not cry at the funeral. Grandpa was finally at peace, but I still felt him with me.
The tears came later when we made it back to Colorado. My grandma’s lung cancer landed her in the hospital a little after a year from her husband passing. Grandpa visited me to get me to deliver a message to my mom to make sure grandma had roses on her casket from him at her funeral.
When I am feeling down he reminds me that I am his mother’s great-granddaughter. She was an American Black Foot Indian. He taught me all about her Indian beliefs.