Last night, as I lay in bed, I found myself thinking about my grandfather, Dale Walker.
I will admit that I do not think of him nearly enough.
Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of his death.
It doesn't feel like that long ago.
Except it was.
At the time I was still living at home, attending the community college and working at Subway. I think it is fairly safe to say that I was pretty self-absorbed at that point in my life - hopefully that is not still the case.
I cannot remember much about the weeks prior to his passing, but I have vivid memories of one of the last times I saw my grandfather alive. My mother decided to go to New Athens to help around the house, as Grandpa was basically bedridden. I decided to go along with her. I remember thinking that it was such a big ordeal to me, as I had to email my teachers that day to let them know I would not be attending class - as if they cared. Looking back on it now, that seems like such a trivial thing and worthless to worry about. Thankfully, I made the right decision and hopped in the conversion van for the hour and fifteen minute trip.
When we arrived, I help Grandpa get from the bedroom to his recliner by the front door. He settled in for a period of time and seemed very quiet. After a while, I helped him walk to the bathroom. Once he was finished, I helped him move to his bed. This was the last time I ever saw my grandfather standing. As he rested in his bed, I helped him get comfortable, helped get him a drink and spent the time talking to him about what mom was helping grandma with in the kitchen.
After a couple of hours, it became readily apparent that his condition was worsening. Uncle Keith had come over and we were going to get Grandpa into the Green Escort to take to the hospital. Not having a wheelchair in the house, we resorted to grabbing one of the wooden kitchen chairs from the kitchen. We set Grandpa into the chair and then we carried him out of the front door to the car. (My recollection is that I carried the feet of the chair, but that may be incorrect.) Once we were able to get Grandpa into the passenger side and buckled in, I leaned in, kissed his forehead and told my Grandfather that I loved him. I don't know that he had the power t
o respond vocally at that point (and I do not remember him saying anything to me in return), but I could see his response in his eyes. He loved us all.
I stepped back, watched the car leave the gravel driveway past the mailbox and turn the corner onto Hanft Street. I remember thinking that I might never see him again. I do not believe I ever did. I cannot tell you what day this all occurred on, as I cannot remember how long he was at the hospital. I do not believe it could have been too long. All I know is that this is my last memory of my Grandpa Walker, aside from his funeral.
Looking back, I am incredibly glad that I had the opportunity to help my
Thinking back, even now, I still feel like crying over the loss of my Grandfather.
He was tall and thin.
He wasn't boisterous and loud.
He was a quiet man.
He loved gardening and didn't get too upset when we played in his corn.
He loved taking his grand-kids wagon rides behind his lawn tractor.
He kept the fridge in the garage stocked with Vess soda, because he loved his grand-kids.
He lived a fairly simple life and that was good enough.
It's hard to believe that I have now lived more than half of my life without Grandpa Walker in it.
I hope that he'd be happy with who I have become - I'd like to think so.
Grandpa Walker - you are loved and missed.