Thursday, July 25, 2013

Goodbye to a Great Man

Today marks a week since we lost my grandpa. It's been a surreal week of planning, tears, laughter, and love. He was one of the greatest men I know and taught me so much about the value of family, marriage, and books. He had a big heart and was always willing to help anyone who needed it. He was a story-teller and life long learner. He loved my grandmother for almost 63 years and I've always hoped for a love like theirs. 
I will think of him when I'm at the thrift stores searching through books. I will think of him when I'm hear bible stories and hymns. I will think of him anytime our local team plays the Diamondbacks.
I will miss him and wish I would have had one more moment. 
I will love him, everyday. 

Almost ten years ago I wrote a piece about my Grandpa that I want to share here: 

Recipe for Grandpa’s Special

About 1 pound potatoes (chop into bite size pieces)
1 dozen eggs (stirred 30 times in a big bowl)
A swig of milk (1 for the eggs, 1 for Grandpa & a cup for me to stir chocolate into)
1 finely chopped onion (“…And no, I am not crying!”)
Lots of bacon (nearly burnt, crumbled pieces to mix in later)
A swirl of oil in the bottom of the skillet (“That’s the secret—you need lots of oil!”)
Lots of cheese

1. “Step away from the stove!” My Grandpa yells at anyone nearing his skillet du jour of eggs, potatoes, bacon, and onion.  We know better than try to stir Grandpa’s pre-church Sunday brunch.  However, Grandma always seems to forget and I want to warn her before Grandpa sees her pick up the old spatula.

2. “Let it sit.” Although I never see him actually preparing the dish, I always awaken to the smell of crisp bacon and wafting coffee.  In pajamas and morning breath I traverse the stairs into the kitchen and am greeted with a Grandpa-sized hug and smile.  I take my place at the table, even though no one else is up and the forks are still hiding in the drawer next to the leaky sink.  I sip on my chocolate milk while Grandpa talks about sautéing onions, and mixing eggs.

3. “Only Grandpas and Dads can make it just right.”  Grandpa has staked out the stove so no one gets near his steaming skillet.  After mixing all the ingredients we wait together for the secret signal that tells him the meal is done.  When I ask why Grandma isn’t allowed to help he teaches me my first life lesson—women aren’t patient enough.  According to Grandpa’s recipe, everything will be perfect if you just leave it alone.  Too much stirring will make the eggs runny—let the oil and steam do their jobs.

4. “Ketchup ruins it.”  With the table set and the rest of the family awake, Grandpa announces that breakfast is ready.  Grandma has picked a lopsided, pale, yellow grapefruit from a tree out back and sliced it into juicy chunks.  We close our eyes and bow our heads as Grandpa gracefully gives thanks for our safe travel and bountiful spread.  I peek at him when he is speaking and watch the wrinkles on his forehead move like ripples on the beachfront.  I squeeze my eyelids shut when he says “Amen” and open them again holding the picture of Grandpa praying secret in my heart.  My little brother asks for ketchup and we slather the top of the thick, unstirred omelet nearly covering Grandpa’s masterpiece.

5. “I feel lucky this morning!”  We eat in a blur, getting seconds and picking out the biggest pieces of bacon.  Grandpa eats slowly and tells us stories of Jonah and Sampson, practicing for the morning sermon.  When we get fidgety, Grandma collects all the dishes and grabs the Yahtzee cup full of dice.  Grandpa gets the scoreboard and shows us how close he has come to beating Grandma three times this week.  I can see the smiley face next to Grandma’s name symbolizing her winning streak.  Standing next to Grandpa’s chair, she takes a practice roll and none of her dice can be counted.  Grandpa grabs her around the waist and squeezes, claiming a premature victory.  I grab the dice and start the game, hoping that I can prove to Grandpa that I am lucky too.    

Recipe serves 1 family tradition and will keep when upheld for many Sundays to come.  


Amanda M. said...

I was so sorry to hear about your loss. What an amazing man!!

kate at yr own risk said...

I love how you used the recipe format.

Anne said...

Oh Denise, I'm so sorry about your Grandpa. He sounds like a very special guy and I'm glad you have such great memories of him. I laughed out load at your story of how he said women didn't have enough patience. In my case in the kitchen that is so true. It's just too hard to stand there and let things alone. I feel compelled to stir or something. Blessing and peace to your whole family.