Thursday, March 10, 2011

In Memoriam Grandpa Byrd 1911-2011

My grandpa passed away this last weekend. He was 99 years old. He wasn't my biological grandpa but he has been my grandpa since I was in the 6th grade and the one I have the most memories with. I have found that blood is not what makes you family. Love, time, and support does. Grandpa was definitely my family regardless of our blood.

I am driving to my hometown this weekend with some of my family to go to his funeral. He was loved by a lot of people and I am looking forward to celebrating his long life with them all. Some of them I haven't seen in years.

I have some great memories of my grandpa. When I first met him, he rode a motorcycle and he would take us kids out for rides. My mom has a great picture of my sister (who was in kindergarten at the time) on the back of Grandpa's motorcycle with a huge helmet on. He and my grandma lived in a big house on the outskirts of town that always had a cow in the pasture. We learned after the first one, not to make friends with the cow because it would inevitably end up being dinner at some future date.

He was a wonder with wood...he made all sorts of things out of wood, from clocks, to tables, to frames to knives. In fact, my absolute favorite kitchen knife is the one he made for me for my wedding. He was a logger most of his life and he had some great stories to tell of his years in the woods and mills of Oregon. He worked for every dime he had and did so from a very early age.

He loved his could always count on there being donuts, hot chocolate and some kind of candy at Grandpa's house. When we would eat dinner there once a week, my sister and I might get lucky and he would make a virgin grasshopper for us to sip while the grown-ups were having their drinks.

In my family, Grandma and Grandpa were always a big part of our lives. We went to the their house after school and during the summers when our parents were working. We went on road trips and vacations with them. Grandpa had a huge RV when we were kids and he and Grandma would go out to see his big family all over the US in it. They even drove down to Texas to visit us when we were there for a couple of years.

These last few years have been hard for Grandpa. You could tell he had a hard time getting comfortable with the aches and pains that old age bring. He couldn't hear or see much and sleep was something that sometimes eluded him.

My last visit to him was three weeks ago. We had a good visit with him. At the end of the visit, he was sitting in his big chair talking to my sister and I about how he felt bad that he couldn't remember everything and that he was sometimes confused. We tried to reassure him that it was alright to be confused sometimes and that we all loved him nonetheless. He talked about being the oldest of all of us and how he had lived a long life. It broke my heart when he started to cry and tell us how much he knew we were taking care of him. We told him it was okay, that we loved him and we just wanted him to be happy and healthy. I didn't know for sure that it would be the last time I saw him but I am glad that I got the chance to tell him how much I loved him before he had to go.

I hope this weekend will be a great time for all of us to laugh and remember all the fabulous things he brought to our lives instead of being too sad. He was a terrific grandpa who had a wonderfully long and full life, and I know that I will miss seeing him when I go home to visit.

I love you Grandpa!!


Three Years Ago on In My Words...Nekid As A Jaybird


Heather @Critter Chronicles said...

So sorry for your loss, Mishka. :( This was a beautiful eulogy.

Mishka said...

Thanks Heather.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful tribute to a great sounding man.
Sorry for your loss Mishka.

Veronica said...

Sorry for your loss!! Hopefully all your fond memories of him will bring you comfort. Prayers to you and you family.

Mishka said...

Thanks guys...the service was good and we all talked about memories of Gpa. I was able to see some of my cousins and other relatives I haven't seen in ages.

Kasia said...

Wonderfully said,
As long as he'll be in your heart, he'll be with you.
Warm thoughts and blessings with you, Mishka.


Poppy said...

So sorry for your loss. What a great age to make it to. I hope you did much celebrating of his life.

Mishka said...

Thanks, it was a great ceremony and the family get together is was really nice too!!