One year ago, today, Erin and I and the kids were headed to visit Grandpa in the nursing home. He hadn’t been there long, not quite a week, and we were making our first visit. It wasn’t a long drive, probably 45 minutes was all, and we were all looking forward to another spirited visit. I’d even talked to my uncle along the way. Grandpa had been awake and visiting my cousins, uncles, and aunts, and was in good spirits. A little tired, maybe, but, just fine.
As we walked down the hallway to his room, my aunt came out, and right away, we knew something was wrong. She told us he had just taken his last breath and we should hurry. We, as a family, held his hands and said our goodbyes and a prayer.
That wasn’t the trip we expected, that day. But we were glad we made it, just the same.
I don’t know if you all, as readers, always feel the undercurrent of family, and the importance of family, as we share our stories of restoration. But the truth is, the main goal of this project is the preservation of family. Of the history and the memories of that place, and the people who passed through, making it what it is.
At his memorial service, with some difficulty, I shared this story:
Some years ago, my grandpa was considering what to do with the old car that was once his dad’s.
It needed work. It needed more work than Grandpa knew. But I could tell that, when he talked about it, he hated the thought of letting it go or scrapping it. So, I did what any good grandson would. I bought it (for probably too much money).
Over the next several years, many hours and a fair amount of money was poured into that car. I’d like to tell you repairs were quick and easy, but that’d be a lie.
As the months and then years went by, I’d visit Grandpa. He’d always ask, “Did you drive the green car?”
And for many visits, I’d have to answer, “Sorry, Grandpa. No.” His face would fall a little and we’d have to talk about what I’d done, what was wrong, and what I’d try next. Those conversations always ended with, “is it even worth the trouble?”
To which I’d always reply, “Yep. Yep, Grandpa, it is.”
And I’ll never forget the time I got to proudly tell him it was waiting outside. Nor will I forget the look of pleasure he had while driving it again.
That wasn’t the end of it. It didn’t just work after that.
One memorable time I brought it out just fine, but the battery died. Grandpa hopped out to push start it. There was my, almost 90 year old grandpa, pushing his dad’s car in the yard. We did get it going that day, but when we did, we were both mad and Grandpa turned to me and said, “I’m sorry I ever got you into all this. I never should’ve sold you this stupid car.”
To which I replied, “I’m not sorry. We’ll get it figured out. It’s worth it.”
For the record, the last couple time I drove the Chevy out to see Grandpa, it worked just fine both ways.
But, now that Grandpa’s gone, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that car and I.
Because the truth is; every time he asked me if it was worth it, I wasn’t answering about the car.
To tell the truth, I’m not sure I even like that car.
But I really did love my Grandpa.
That, is what this, is all about.
It’s about Grandma.
It’s about Grandpa.
It’s about my mom.
It’s about my brother.
It’s about family.