Grandpa’s little girl

This post is mostly for me. Mostly a response to something I heard the other day that got me thinking. But I think this will mostly be my ramblings. It’s something I never got to do and something that I just have to get written down. Not off my chest or out of my heart because that will never happen but I just needed to give life to these words and thoughts.

In a few days it’ll be the anniversary of my grandpa’s death. He died in February of 2000, the same year I graduated high school. Recently I heard someone say that when somebody dies, the longer they are gone the more you forget them. I can’t say that’s true, in fact I wonder if that person has ever lost somebody close to them.

My grandpa, Bud (Joel) Curnutt, to date is the closest person to me that I have lost. I remember and can recount most of the events leading up to his death almost like they were the last week. I remember my thoughts or lack there of. I can remember my actions and I can see it all play out as if I was out of my body because that’s what it felt like. His death didn’t feel real. So much so that the Thanksgiving right after his death the whole family was at my aunt’s house and when they called everybody in for dinner I remember sitting in the lazy boy in the front room and waiting for my grandpa to come in from the back yard, shuffle his feet and tell me it’s time to eat. I remember sitting there waiting and then it dawned on me, he’s not coming in because he’s not here.

My grandpa was grumpy and sour a lot of the time. He was cynical and crabby but he was mine and I loved him in all of his cantankerous ways. My mom, his daughter, had me when she was 16 and as the story is told when she told my grandparents she was pregnant and that she felt life my grandpa was the one who said we’re keeping it. I was his first grandchild, his first granddaughter and oh how he loved his granddaughters. I still have the stuffed dog puppet he brought to the hospital the day I was born. He used to sing to me “Jennifer, Juniper, grandpa’s little girl” even as I write that I can still hear his voice sing it to me.

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My grandpa taught me how to ride a bike and how to swim. He would let me sit in his lap and steer the car. He would come out in the backyard and sit in the passenger seat of their big van and let me pretend to drive him to Las Vegas. He always let me take all the change from his pockets and if I asked for it, it was mine no questions asked. I would sit on his lap at night and watch T.V. with him. Nine times out of ten you could bet he was going to shuffle his feet and do a little dance when he walked into a room.

I’ll never forget the day I got pulled out of class to hear my mom’s voice on the other line telling me she was coming to get me because grandpa had an aneurysm. I walked from class to class collecting my work and I felt like the walking dead.

I believe that’s when they found the cancer. Once they found the cancer I think we all knew that the end was coming.

My grandpa always had something wrong. Some weird thing, skin cancer, weird moles, heart issues the list goes on and on and through everything he always bounced back to shuffle back into the room and  make us all smile. I think we all knew with cancer that wasn’t going to be the case.

I remember spending some time In Arizona with him the Summer before my senior year and the Summer before he passed away. He just didn’t have the same energy and his crankiness was different. Cancer was harsh and unforgiving. If any of you have ever watched somebody die from cancer knows how unrelenting it is. How it takes a body and destroys it with no remorse.

When my mom and brother went to Arizona for the last time we knew when they came back he would be gone.

I’ll never forget the night the phone rang at my nana and papa’s. Me and my dad had gone for dinner on a Sunday night. I remember the phone ringing and in my heart I knew what it was. I knew it was my mom and I knew what she was going to say. When I picked it up she didn’t say anything but asked to talk to my dad that’s when I started to feel like I was outside of my body.  I don’t remember anything my dad said on the phone or anything anybody said from that point on. I remember tears filling my dads eyes, I don’t even think I cried I just stood there, all I could do was stand there. I remember my dad taking me on a walk and talking to me and asking me questions which I’m not sure I answered and if I did I’m sure they didn’t make any sense. I remember feeling like all I could do was breathe and that was getting harder by the second.

The next thing I remember is being at my aunt’s house watching the kids. People were constantly coming in and out of the house and it all seemed to be rushing around me and I just stood still. I don’t remember anybody’s reactions or anything anybody said, it was like somebody turned the volume down in my ears.

It was an open casket and I do remember everybody trying to get me to go see him. They kept asking if I wanted to go see him and telling me they would come with me and I don’t know what I said but it must have been no because I remember knowing it wasn’t him, knowing it was a shell and the soul that I so loved was gone.

I watched as people got up and spoke, I wanted to speak but I don’t think I could will myself to get out of my seat let alone form words. People came in and out of the house afterwards. It all felt like none of it was happening and I remember trying to sleep and thinking maybe when I wake up it will have all been a dream and waking up and knowing this was my new reality.

So for the person who said the longer the person is gone the more you forget them, I’m sorry sir but you’re wrong. As I write this and when I think of my grandpa I still feel the sting of his death. Thirteen years later I still hear his voice sing to me and I can still see his face as his feet shuffle into a room.

If the nurses account was right and my grandpa heard our please and did give his life to the Lord in his last moments, I can’t wait to see him again with his big ears, wide smile, bright eyes and bald head.

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