I guess growing up, I never realized the closeness of my relationship with my grandpa was unusual. Every day after school from kindergarten through 5th grade I got to hang out with my grandpa and grandma. Getting babysat by your grandparents is not something all kids get to enjoy, but I was fortunate enough to have it.
My Grandpa was the kindest and most heart-warming individual I knew. He was always there to crack jokes and play games, and even pretended to be impressed with my Lite Brite skills (they weren't very good). But more importantly, you could always just feel the love seeping from his every pore. That deep-seeded love was something I will never forget, whether it was on the way down to Florida in a minivan with him, or eating with him at lunchtime.
I was a picky kid when it came to eating, and my grandpa always accommodated. I wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich "with no cracks" every day. This was pretty tricky - have you have tried to fold over a piece of bread with something inside, and not make a crack? Well my grandpa got pretty good at it, and who knows how much perfectly good sandwiches he had to get rid of to accommodate my weird eating habits.
I've been told that my grandpa had a bit of a mean streak to him in his younger days - yelling at refs in basketball games and such. It's hard for me to believe though, because I never saw that side of him. Perhaps, though, his passion for sports is what is deep inside me.
His battle with Alzheimer's for the past 10 years or so has been a difficult thing for all of my family to handle. But his amazing heart and kindness always shined through, no matter what his cognitive state. You could still feel the love that he had for you, even if he was completely uncomfortable and confused on where he was. His eyes lit up anytime he saw us, or especially a child, and that's why I know he has to be loving heaven right now. Imagine all the corny jokes he can crack again and the kids he can make smile.
I'll miss you grandpa, but I know it was your time to go. Go love on grandma and save a place for me down the road.