When I Think Of Grandpa

When I was much younger I remember being at Grandma and Grandpa’s.   There were people every where.  There always was.   The couch would have three or four aunts sitting on it.  The chairs would all be occupied.   One uncle would constantly be yelling to shut the door.  But with a tad more color to the request.   People would be in the kitchen.  On the floors.  In and out of the house (hence the door shutting request).

Grandpa would be sitting in his chair.  Smoking a pipe.  Oh to smell that pipe again.  Talking with whoever.  Patting Grandma on the hind end when she walked by.  I saw that more than once.   And I take umbrage  whenever anyone uses the term “wife beater” to describe a t-shirt that I think of as a Grandpa Shirt.

The house never seemed crowded to me.   As small as it was it always seemed big enough to hold who ever showed up.

One day I watched while they passed around a card Grandma or Grandpa had received from a friend.  A friend who always hid their signature or initials.   I didn’t know this.  But I watched as they said to give it to my cousin because he always finds it.   They handed it to my younger cousin and sure enough, he found it.

It dawned on me then that there was so much about my grandparents I didn’t know.   I wasn’t a part of.

I was fascinated to know there was more.

Over the years when I was there I would watch as my Grandpa interacted with this cousin.  I didn’t feel he favored my cousin.  Maybe he did, but I didn’t feel bad about it.   I could feel something there.  Something wonderful.   And it was nice.   I saw pictures of them fishing and holding up their catch.  I would hear them talk about their trips.

When I wrote a story about Grandma and Grandpa he drew a cover picture of their house for the story.

My cousin always seemed so quiet.  So serene.  I don’t remember him talking much at family gatherings.  But maybe I didn’t either.

I have many memories of when Grandpa died.  Of standing with my aunt next to his casket and she patted and rubbed his shoulder.  I remember the stories being told in the funeral home.  I remember Grandma being so happy that so many people were there for Grandpa.   I don’t know if ‘happy’ is the right word to use.  But she felt he deserved many many people being there for him.   And they were.

But the moment I remember more than anything, and that ties my cousin to Grandpa forever in my heart, happened at the cemetery.    After the service.  After the prayers.  After people started to walk away.   There were flowers from Grandpa’s casket that people had started to go up and retrieve, one flower per person.  I think they were roses.

Off to the side.  Not rushing.  Waiting patiently for everyone to get the flower they wanted, stood my cousin.

He stood quietly.


Respecting everyone.

My memories get a little foggy here.  Because I was so struck by emotion when I saw him there.   With his hands clasped together, hanging in front of him.   I like to think I went up to him and told him to get a flower.  But I might have wanted to, and not said anything.

But I remember him going up, and quietly getting one of the flowers.

And I remember being relieved that he got one.

I know Grandpa’s life was full of wonderful, special and beautiful relationships.

But I can’t think of him without thinking of my cousin.   And when I think of my cousin, I think of my Grandpa.

I think it is a wonderful and beautiful thing.  A relationship between two people that gives comfort and joy to others.   Just knowing it exists.

44 thoughts on “When I Think Of Grandpa

  1. What lovely memories, Colleen. Our grandparents give us something very special, that we then want to pass along to our grandchildren, don’t we? I love to review my own memories, and I’m so glad you shared yours. We need to keep those memories close!


    • Yes we do Debra. So very close. Having little grands myself I would hope to give them something wonderful to remember. They inspire me to be as good as I can be. And remembering my grandparents, makes me want to be like them. 🙂


  2. I love this story Colleen. Especially Grandpa patting Grandma on the hind end when she walked by – how beautiful is that. This is wonderful to think of the association and relationship that you have with both your cousin and grandpa..they are linked and forever will be. I have some pictures of my grandparents in my archive writing, for some reason I can’t get the link to work but it’s in the below
    “Memories of the past – more old photos…
    I never met my granddad and only met my grandma for a short time, before she passed. Family is sacred, this is a heart felt tribute. xx


    • Thank you Jen. I was fortunate enough to know all 4 grandparents. I even knew, and remember, a great grandma and a great aunt. What memories I have are all very positive. I will check out your pictures!!! I love pictures, when I have to go in to people’s homes for work I am always looking at their pictures! Homes without pictures give me funny feelings.


    • I hope so Koji. It’s part of my hope for my blog. That what they can’t remember me telling them….they can later read. And I want them to read about Grandpa, and the others who I love. Thank you. 🙂


  3. I remember that feeling of urgency as you watch everyone gather a flower from the casket, just wanting one so badly, but thinking of everyone else grieving and wanting them to have that token. Such a bittersweet story. I love it.


  4. This is a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. Colleen.
    Your story brings back memories of people always being around visiting, helping, together. These days everyone’s running their own track and don’t even look up to notice those around them.


  5. Colleen, I think it’s so wonderfully special that you didn’t feel slighted a bit by your cousin’s relationship with your grandpa. This post tells me a lot about your nature.


    • Thank you Glynis. When I think of the two of them it brings nothing but happy thoughts. And seeing pictures of them with their ‘catches’ makes me happy. I can only imagine how thrilled Grandpa was to have a grandson who loved to fish with him. I am excited to find out the things my grandchildren will share doing with me. 🙂 I know I hope to create wonderful memories for them. 🙂


  6. Today Colleen you made me smile and brought tears. What beautiful fun memories you have! I bet your Grandparents loved the story you wrote and your cousin illustrated. I still miss my Grandparents, they are forever a part of me and certain things will always remind me of them.
    Happy Monday!


  7. This is a beautiful story. It reminds me of my grandfather…so true, we do often do jot know the stories behind a grandparent’s life. In general, it reminds me of people whom I miss. Well said.


  8. Wonderful … so full of heart and soul, love tribute.
    I grow up with my grandparents … grandpa the most wonderful person in the world – loved him so and often think about him. He died in cancer when I was about 8 .. what happened between me and my grandma – wasn’t always the best … after he was gone, but I don’t think she knew anything better. Probably the way she had been brought up once.
    I came to tears when I read your words here .. tears of joy and pain.
    Grandpa stands for joy … and …


    • Viveka I’m glad you had your wonderful Grandpa. Maybe you can tell us a story about him?

      Eight years old and dealing with loss, and then Grandma’s issues. Maybe that has something to do with your independence, courage and zest for beautiful things. I’m glad you found these things as well.

      And thank you.


  9. Beautiful post, Colleen … I felt as if I were there with you in their home and at the cemetery. I never knew either of my grandfathers, as they died long before I was born. I wish I had learned more about them, but now my parents are gone as well (both lived to be 90 … strong Irish stock!). And your undershirt reference reminded me of what we kids used to call my dad’s sleeveless undershirts: tickle shirts!


    • Thank you Jim. your parents both lived to 90! How wonderful. You’ve got to love the Irish stamina and determination. 😉

      Tickle shirts is a MUCH better phrase than that other one. The hairs on the back of my neck tingle when someone uses that horrible phrase because I always think of Grandpa when I see one. 🙂


  10. Colleen, What a wonderful post and tribute. But really is wonderful is your personal memories. My grandgaughter is 8 and a half. Because of my issues I use every opportunity to help her create similar positive memories of me. I know I will be taking some very special memories with me. Please take care, Bill


    • Bill you are awesome. I think so much about what I want to leave with and for my grandchildren. I’m glad you’re writing your blog. And I’m aware of the memories you’ve shared with us. I’m sure Cari has many more than we’ll ever know about. 🙂


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