These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Just this past Thursday evening your Grandfather passed away.
I want to tell you a little bit about him and I’m sure you can ask your Dad and he will be glad to tell you more.
Your Grandfather was a Marine. He was proud of his service to our country. I always respected that because I feel that he should be proud of that. And it was with pride that he claimed that status of a Marine. Your Grandfather was like that the whole time I knew him – he was one to put others first and would choose to do the right thing because he could see that for what it was.
Your Grandfather was a hard working man. He was the father of five sons – your Dad being the youngest of those five. He held down a couple of jobs to provide for his family.
I have heard memories that your father has shared of Grandpa Rose taking him with him to x-ray different people – religious figureheads, members of the Anheuser Busch family, etc. He has a papal dispensation. I’d never seen one of those before, but now I have.
A couple of jokes that I remember from your Grandpa Rose:
When eating at a restaurant, be sure to ask the waitress or waiter if they have crab legs. When they say “yes”, be sure to tell them that there is a surgery to correct that.
Your Grandpa used to tell me that he was a good boy. He told me his parents never had to pay him to be good. Yes, sir! He was good for nothing!
I’m sure you’ll hear them all from your father for years to come.
When we met and got married, we moved in with your Grandma and Grandpa Rose for a couple of years.
And this is what I keep thinking about – the memory that is lodged in my head since he passed away:
I remember coming home – from work or being out with Clay – and seeing the laundry basket neatly sitting at the foot of the stairs (we stayed in the upstairs while we lived with them). There, folded neatly in the basket with all the other clothes were my thong underpants. At first, I was embarrassed because I had started the load and had intended to finish it, but had gone to work or out and by the time I got back, he had finished it.
But there was no judgment there. It was just him taking care of his kids. Doing the laundry. It was just another garment, nothing to be ashamed of – folded and sitting with the rest.
He was just being a Dad.
That’s what I will always remember about Tony. His fatherly caring.
You were close to him. Grandma and Grandpa Rose watched you three days a week for more than a year when you were little before we sent you to daycare. There was a little dog that Grandpa called Barky. He would put Barky on top of his head and then ask you a question “Hey, Jack. Do you see Barky around here anyplace? I can’t seem to find him.”
You would pull yourself up on the couch and swat the dog off his head or off the snack that Grandpa or Grandma had set out for you – whatever the game was that day. He loved you so much, Jack.
I don’t know how much you will remember, but this past week has been rough and you know that Grandpa was in the hospital. The other day, we were driving home and you said from the backseat “When I grow up, then I can go to the hospital to visit Grandpa.” I did my best to explain, but failed miserably. I don’t know what you are thinking about all this and I don’t know the best way to deliver this message about death and losing someone you love.
But the way your father is – his sense of humor (warped though it is), is your Grandpa’s sense of humor. His work ethic is your Grandpa’s work ethic. His desire to do right by you and his loyalty to his wife and kids – those are all things that are true of your Grandpa.
We’ll share the stories about Grandpa, but when you see these traits in your father, your Grandpa is not gone.
Now wherever you are right now and whatever you are doing: Stop and go give your Daddy a hug.