Gpa was always in my life from my earliest memory right up until a week before he died, when I was in my late twenties. When I was in grade school I went to gma & gpa's house for an hour after school everyday, so I saw him every day. Up until I was about 17, our family had Wednesday night and Sunday night dinner at gma & gpa's house every week, so I saw him then too. Any time I had a doctor or dental appointment during the day when my mom was at work, it was gpa that took me. While I didn't have a dad in my life growing up, I did have my gpa and probably saw him and talked with him and learned from him, quite a bit more than most kids interact with their own dad. Gpa was retired so he was just always there. Gma and Gpa came to my baseball games, and travelled around the state to my tournaments. Gma and gpa went on summer vacations with us, made the trek with us each year to eastern Washington for Memorial Day, and were there for every holiday. My family has a strong sense of family and the grandparents, kids, grandkids, cousins, aunts, uncles, inlaws and even the outlaws were the way we all grew up, together. It was a really good way to grow up, firmly anchored in family, and what family means.
The last conversation I had with my gpa was on Halloween night, a little over a week before he passed away. When my brother and sister and I were kids, we'd always go to gma & gpa's house first to trick or treat and show off our costumes, then trick or treat down their street before heading back to our neighborhood a few blocks away. After we all grew up and had kids of our own, that tradition was passed down and my kids would hit gma & gpa's house first just like I did when I was little. That year I had on a witch hat and when I came in gpa said in his joking way "hey, someone get that witch outta my house!" I replied "grandpa! it's just me!" Oh, he said, well you can stay then (or something to that affect). That was the extent of our conversation before we left to take the kids trick or treating down their street. Nine days later gpa went home to heaven at 83 years old.
I still miss my gpa very much, but I am so incredibly thankful I had him in my life for as long as I did, and even more so that he trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior. Knowing that I will see him again someday in glory makes missing him much more bearable.