My Grandpa Burl passed away last Monday, September 9th. He was 95 years old and would have been 96 today. Until three weeks ago he was living at home, still driving and taking care of himself. How amazing is that? He went downhill so quickly. But that’s how it should have been. He wouldn’t have wanted to be dependent.
I posted last year briefly about attending my Grandpa Burl’s 95th birthday party. People got to go up on stage and tell stories or say a few words. I don’t know what made me do it but I went up there and said everything I felt. I told Grandpa Burl how he was the only Grandpa I’d ever really known (both of my Grandpas died before I could remember them). I told him how was like a second Dad to my Dad. I told him how next to my Dad, he was one of the biggest male influences on my life. I told him how much I loved him and how lucky I was to have him in my life.
When he passed away on Monday I felt… peace. He had a long, full life. He lived nearly 96 years and was surrounded by family. But more than that, I felt at peace because I had nothing that I left unsaid. How often can we really say that the people in our lives know exactly how we feel? I feel so lucky to have been given that opportunity at his birthday party.
Burl isn’t really my Grandpa, he’s my Great Uncle. Grandpa was always easier though and seemed fitting. He was best friends with my Grandpa Dean and Burl’s wife Ruth and my Grandma Velma were twins. I still remember their 70th birthday party in… 1988 I think… where they wore matching blue dresses with black polka dots. They loved being twins.
Here’s a picture of that… Grandpa Burl is peeking out between the twins and I’m the adorable little girl on the far left. My Mom, Dad, and sisters are the others, and cousin Larry in the background on the right. Looking at this… it fills my heart.
This past Wednesday, September 11th, would have been Velma and Ruth’s 94th birthday. All I could think of all day is that the four of them, Dean and Velma and Burl and Ruth, were all finally together again after all these years. Exactly how they should be. I can’t think about that without crying but I find it so comforting.
I hope they are celebrating today. I know I did, with a couple of Grandpa Burl’s favorite things: scotch and golf (a simulator because it was raining).
Happy 96th birthday, Grandpa. I love you and miss you.