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In Honor of Grandpa

August 8, 2008

Tomorrow, August 8, 2008 is the 8th anniversary that marks the death of my grandfather, Leo Garrett.  I remember the day that he died like yesterday.  He was diagnosed with diabetes late in his life and then later was discovered to have heart disease.  Never mind the fact that he bowled in more than 5 leagues a week (some nights more than 1 league or 3 games per league mind you).  He was as healthy as he could be for his age.  Then when they diagnosed his diabetes they also discovered his leg may need to be amputated.  A second opinion led to the amputation of two toes rather than the leg.  Still, to him, it might as well be his leg – he was no longer able to bowl.

The last years of his life were spent as best he could.  By this time he was nearing his 80’s, so he would watch TV, eat well and do what I remember he did the most, other than bowl.  He laughed.

When his health began failing, I drove from Sioux Falls to his bedside, 7 hours to my hometown in Columbia, Missouri.  I’ll never forget the look he had.  It was obvious that he was not going to make it, at least to me.  It was just a matter of time.  I experienced a wealth of emotions, but mostly pure sadness and hurt.  A person who was there for me my entire life was about to die.  And it devastated me.

I was there as he passed away.  We all were – my parents, grandmother, my sister and a few friends of the family.  We were there at his bed.  I was on his right side, holding his hand and Grandma was on his left.  It hurt him as he took his last breaths and then his hand became very cold.  His pulse slowed and then he was gone.  It pained me to watch him go just as much today as I type this as the day it happened.  I was the last one to leave the hospital room that day and words cannot explain how empty I felt on that day and the many, many days after.

A few months later I realized I had a choice.  I could continue to live my life, eating poorly, etc. and end up diabetic as he had – or I could honor his memory and do something with my health.  I lost over 30 lbs. that year, changed my life and got things in order.  I’d invite you to do the same if you’re in poor shape, regardless of losing someone close or not.

So, here I am, on the eve of his 8th year anniversary.  Grandpa died on August 8, 2000 or 08-08-00.  Call me goofy, but when you manipulate those numbers, the 8 on its side is the symbol for infinity and Grandpa will surely live on within me for all infinity.  As my wife and I were recently looking for a house to move our family, we found the house we just moved into a few weeks ago.  Wanna know the address?  800 S. Byron Cirlce.  Yep, 800.  My wife even had our mail changed over to our new address to be effective on 08-08-08 – tomorrow.  

I’m not a strange ranger, for those who are reading this and think so.  I’m just a sentimental 40 year old who still loves his Grandpa very much.  So, tomorrow, in honor of his memory and my health, I will run 8 miles.  I don’t care if it takes me 8 hours, although I know it will take me much less.  He will be remembered tomorrow as I run.  And for much longer.  

I miss you Grandpa.  Thanks for everything.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. KimBot permalink
    October 9, 2008 10:41 pm

    Jeff what a wonderful post about your grandpa… I had tears in my eyes by the end of it… I’m sure he is looking over you.

  2. October 9, 2008 11:43 pm

    Thanks for the comment. Glad to have evoked the emotions!

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