My earliest memories of my maternal grandpa are of him in his work uniform, his Sears repair truck parked in front of their house. Grandpa could fix pretty much anything. I remember my Dad calling Grandpa on more than one occasion for some pointers on what to do about a malfunctioning appliance. And Grandpa could help – from 1,400 miles away over the phone – just by listening to a description of the problem.
I mostly grew up in the Western United States. But Grandpa and Grandma were in Wichita, so of course that meant visits with them were somewhat rare. But they made extra efforts to spend time with me. I remember my parents driving us to Wichita one summer. Then they returned home while Karen and I stayed at our grandparents for a few weeks before Grandpa & Grandma drove us home. (And I remember my aunt rode in the middle of the backseat between us the whole way to California! She must really like us to have indulged us all that way.)
I remember Wright Family reunions in various parts of the country – Grandpa and Grandma always had their popup trailer. One year the Wright reunion was in California. Grandma & Grandpa came out early, picked up Karen and me and took us to the reunion. Then Mom and Dad came up for the weekend and we went home with them.
Despite the distance between us, Grandpa and Grandma made it a point to be at some of the most significant events of my life – high school graduation, college graduation, and my wedding.
Grandpa had a hemorrhagic stroke in June, just weeks after his wife of 66 years passed away. When he was recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, he was very weak so instead of going home he was transferred to a nursing home. We all hoped for some time that he would regain sufficient strength and mobility to be able to return to his home – but that was not the case. I think he missed Grandma and without her much of his incentive to recover was gone. He passed away in September at the age of 90.
The last time I saw Grandpa was in November when I took a trip to Wichita over Thanksgiving. It was a hard trip. I travelled alone and was away from my girls overnight for the first time. At the time Grandma was living in the nursing home suffering from the late stages of Alzheimer’s while Grandpa was still at home. I think part of me knew it would probably be the last time I saw my grandparents even though I desperately wanted to plan another trip that would allow my girls to meet their GGma and GGpa.
I miss Grandpa and both of my Grandmas. But more important than that, I know that they are without pain and suffering now. So my sadness is only for myself, not for them. They have been restored. And I like to think that they can look down from heaven and listen to little girl giggles and laughs any time they want.