It is time. It is time to say goodby to my grandfather, who for years was there for me. He believed in me, when I didn’t see it in myself.

When it was time for me to move to Texas, my father asked my grandfather if I was ready and he said “it is time.” And it was.

You see, with my grandfather, time is a key component to his life. He was a farmer so his crops were time sensitive. He and I talked on Saturdays and that too was time sensitive.

But his death, I feel was also based on time. He and I talked every Saturday, for the last 20 plus years. And 2 Saturdays ago, we talked and he could barely get more than two sentences out, but his words were meaningful:

Take care of your children and your wife. Love them. And I will miss our Saturday talks. I love you.

And just like that, the conversation was over. It was over, because not only was he tired and was struggling to get those words out, but it was over, because it was time. He said what he needed to say and I replied with a simple Yes Sir and I love you.

Time is a precious thing. It is based on time and moments, but also hugs and love. These past few days, there has been a lot of hugs and love and in a few moments, time seemed to stand still.

When the US Army Color Guard played Taps, I cried. When they folded the flag and saluted my father, who is a retired US Full Bird Col., I really cried. Because it really hit me, that my grandfather was gone.

Yes, I saw him and took the boys to the visitation and they both went to see the body with my wife, while I stayed in the hallway. But in the sense of time, the visitation stood still. I saw friends and family that I have not seen in years. I saw friends that my dad had in both his professional and military life that I have not seen in years.

And as each person sought me out, I realized, that not only in that moment in time, did life seem ok. But more importantly, that in that moment of time, life was ok, because I was still close to my grandfather.

Time is important, both here in the present and also in the past.

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This has been a tough week. My grandfather is actively dying, work has been work and the boys have been ok. But it has been a tough week.

The boys have had a better week at both school and at home. They have done well with their nightly reading and math homework. But Boy B’s teacher has been out on medical leave and so his schedule has been a little off. I will say though that his medication has really helped with the last two weeks transitions with a substitute teacher.

As for my grandfather. The family has called in hospice to help provide comfort for him in his final days. And even though I have not been able to make the 7 hour drive south to say goodbye, I have been able to talk with him several times and we laugh, we cry and we say goodbye again. The call this past weekend was tough, because he was barely able to say “I love you”, but he did and I cried.

The older that I get, the more I realize what is really important. Work has been tough this week, for a lot of reasons. And maybe the things from my life have taken priority and/or overshadowed everything else, I have tried to keep composure. But life, is sometimes hard to control all aspects without a little struggle.

As I type this, one of the boys is watching the Houston Astros playoff baseball game (Go STROS!) and the other is in the bath. I just chilled a bottle of wine, because sometimes a good glass of wine is all that you need to help today be a little better. And as I get the boys ready for bed, I am quietly reflecting on the day and week.

This has been a tough week! But life can be that way more times than not. Sometimes, it is hard to step back and think about what is important because of life. And then there are days like today, that make me really realize what is truly important. So, with that, Go Stros! And I’ll put the boys to bed tonight, enjoy a good glass of wine and I’ll celebrate the final days of my grandfathers life.

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Heroes don’t wear capes and masks, instead they wear uniforms and business suits and dresses, and overalls. Heroes are everyday normal humans that do extraordinary things on a daily basis.

Teachers, doctors, famers, fire fighters, police officers, soliders and the list goes on and on, these are true heroes. They put their lives on the line daily or they do something for the better of the world. And more importantly, they do amazing things with little to no fan fare or rarely a thank you.

Today, as I type this, my grandfather, who is one of my heroes, is laying in a hospital bed and is coming to the end of his life. He fought in World War II, he was a farmer, he was a father and grandfather, brother, uncle, etc. But more importantly, he contributed to society in different ways and made everyone that came in contact with him a better person.

He is always quick with a joke or a smile and he has never known a stranger in his life. Even when he is down or not feeling well, he is doing everything he can to make someone else’s day better. Through out the last several months as his health has steadily declined, he never once complained. He never once asked for pity or for someone to feel bad for him. Instead, he offers advice, he tells a joke and he makes others ok with were he is in his life and in knowing what the future holds.

My grandfather has lived a great life. He lived within his means and built up a legacy for his entire family and has been a rock for us all. And as we come to the end of his life, I have struggled with making sure that I have asked all of the questions that I wanted to know. I have wanted to ensure that he is comfortable and ready to leave this world, because when I get the call, though it will be a sad moment, he will no longer be struggling.

So as we watch what is going on in the world today, I reflect more on what lessons of life I have learned from my grandfather, because he is a hero that wore a farmer’s hat and drove a tractor.

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I do not admit very often that I cried, but today I did and do. Today, I feel that I just told my grandfather goodbye and that I loved him for the last time.

My grandfather, who is 91, has been really struggled for the last few months, since the heart attack that he had back in May. And let’s just say I think that he would had rather gone out of this world than endure what he has since, as being confined to a chair isn’t how he wanted to live.

He is a proud man, who served this country at the age of 22 and went off to Germany to fight in WWII. When he and his brother returned from the war, they purchased a farm in North Carolina and for 40 years plus, that was what put food on the table and provided a livelihood for the family.

He didn’t live a life with the nicest things, but what he had he treasured and talking with people, that is what treasured the most. My grandfather and I had a standing weekly Saturday call at 1pm and it didn’t matter where I was in the world, we had that call. He would tell me about farming or how my grandmother was doing and I would describe what I was looking at if I was traveling.

You see, my grandfather really didn’t travel. In fact, his first and only flight, was to come and see my sons and myself a year ago. I had just always assumed that he flew to Germany for the war, but in fact, he took a boat ride from a port, which ironically enough, was not far from where I live today. But while my grandfather was here for that trip a year ago, we talked about his flight and how he flirted with the flight attendants and it was at that point, he made 2 really important observations about flying:

  1. That he had spent his entire life on the farm looking up at the bottoms of the clouds, but never could imagine the view that he got to see while looking down at the tops of them.
  2. At some point during the flight, he looked at my father, his son and smiled and said “I’m halfway to heaven and I’m that much closer to seeing your mom again.”

Wow! I have flown hundreds of times and not once, not once did I every have that insight. Not once did I think about where I grew up in North Carolina and standing on a baseball field and looking up at the clouds and think about one day spending who knows how many hours flying above the clouds?

And as for the part about my grandmother, you see she had Alzheimer’s for 12 years and my grandfather made the decision to be her primary care giver while she was at home. I will never know all that he did for her and how much abuse he took as the last few years, she became combative, but what I do know, is that he loved that woman and still does to this day and is a wonderful example of how a marriage should work.

My grandparents meet in grade school and got married right after high school and shortly after getting married he left for the war. They had 3 children, 1 being my father, were married for 64 years and through good times and towards the end, it was pretty bad, the lived and loved and worked together. They went to a little white church and that was an important life lesson that not only where the kids taught about, but the grandparents too. To this day, if I walked into their 10 pew church, I could point out exactly where we sat.

I learned a lot from my grandfather, who to drive a truck and a tractor, how to fish, how to laugh and probably one thing that I’ll never forget, is how to treat others. In Eastern North Carolina, I promise you, the number of people that my grandfather the majority were not white. Honestly, the only white people working were my family.

So today, I just had this tugging at my heart and as I sat on the sofa alone and my sons were upstairs playing, I picked up the phone and gave him a call. We didn’t talk very long, maybe 10 minutes as the Congestive Heart Failure and fluid build up is causing him to cough a lot when he talks. But as we talked and I could tell he needed a break he said the following too me “son, I want you to always be there for your family. Teach your sons the important things in life, like going to church, to always love one another and to always laugh.” And as he finished, we both were crying uncontrollably, we just said I love you.

After hanging up, I just sat in tears on the sofa and I cried. I cried for the loss of a great man, that I know the time is near. I cried for joy, in knowing that he will see my grandmother again and probably very soon. I cried, because a man who gave his all for this country, our family and gave unconditional love, will be greatly missed. He showed me the important things in life and shared may stories with me that I will be able to share with my sons when they ask about him. And even though they are old enough now to know him, because we live 6 hours away, they only get to see him 2 times a year.

So tonight as I reflect on the call and the calls that my grandfather and I have had, I am honored to have known and to have loved such an amazing guy. He taught me so much and he will be so greatly missed. Now, I just wait for the call from my dad, which I am sure going to be soon….

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I don’t have many memories of one of my grandfathers, but one memory that I do have is that when I would see him, we would get in the car, just he and I and we would go and get Strawberry Ice Cream. How I can remember this, I’m not really sure, especially considering the fact that my Grandfather died when I was in 1st grade.

I remember a lot about the day that he died. I remember being pulled from class and talk with the principal. I remember my mother crying and we left school early that day. I remember asking my mom if my Grandfather was going to buy me Strawberry Ice Cream that afternoon and she just cried.

Years pass and not a lot is talked about my Grandfather. Not sure why? But last night, of all nights, my sons ate 4 chicken nuggets, 4 large strawberries and a handful of string beans. And after they finished it up, Baby A looked up and saw an ice cream cone and asked for Strawberry Ice Cream.

In that moment, I was transported back to when I was a little boy. I was taken back to when I was a kid, asking my Grandfather for Strawberry Ice Cream. But tonight, both boys, after they literally cleaned their plates, they both asked for Strawberry Ice Cream and in that second, I remembered my Grandfather. I remembered those Sundays at the Ice Cream place. I tried one other Ice Cream, I didn’t like it and he immediately asked for Strawberry Ice Cream and he quickly ordered it for me.

I could do no wrong in my Grandfather’s eyes. I was his only Grandson. And tonight, my son’s could do no wrong. We sat at the table and laughed and talked and ate Ice Cream, Strawberry Ice Cream cones, just like I did when I was their age.

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