Friday, March 05, 2010

Remembering Grandpa

remembering grandpa
Leo Kester 1926-2010


Those that follow me on facebook know that Wednesday night, I lost my Grandpa. It wasn't unexpected, but sooner than we thought it would be. He has been battling bone cancer and took a turn for the worse on Friday of last week. I got to see him on Saturday for a couple hours and I am thankful to have had that time. We weren't close, it is hard to be when you are one of 33 grandchildren, and Grandpa wasn't the close and cuddly sort. He was stern and practical, stubborn and full of faith. I think more than anything, it was his faith that defined him. He was ordained a deacon of the Catholic church in the mid 80s. And when you read my memories of him, you'll see many of them are centered around him and his faith.

Over these past few days, I have had lots of forgotten memories about my Grandpa come back to me. I thought I would share a few here.

~ From what I remember, Grandpa was going to become a preist until he met my Grandma. He told me once he thought she was a floozie because she wore red lipstick. He was in the war but never saw battle, his boat was on it's way to the fight but turned around when the war ended. I liked hearing stories like this and wish I remembered more of them.
~ Grandpa really really liked candy, and he had a candy drawer in his office... we weren't allowed to eat his candy, lol. I can see in my mind, Grandpa sitting at his desk, working on a new homily, and the sun coming in the window behind him, chewing on a piece of candy.
~ I remember the only over night stay my sister and I ever had at our grandparents' house. Grandpa made me and Bonnie cut the weeds at the bottom of the fence that surrounded their pool with scissors. It took us hours.
~ I remember sitting in countless masses, watching from the third pew on the right side of the church, as Grandpa read the homily. His voice is very comforting, very soothing, and when he sang he sounded like Bing Crosby. I also remember realizing, when I was a bit older, that because of who he was, people looked at me (and the rest our family) differently, expecting more out of us.
~ For Grandpa's 70th birthday, we all collected money to get him a brick on the Walk of Fame at Frontier Field (local minor league ball park). We had money left over and we gave it to him for a special project he was working on, a shrine at church, and it made him cry. Not the brick, but the donation to his project meant the world to him.
~ There was a long table in the dining room at my grandparents' house, it was always covered with newspapers. Grandpa saved every scrap of paper and was methodical about reading every article. The would cross it out with a pen or pencil when he finished each paragraph.
~ Every holiday that we gathered for dinner at, our meals would be cold... because, when Grandpa did the blessing, he said each of our names. He would start with the oldest, Mary, say her husband and children, then came Tim, my Dad, and my Mom and me and Bonnie. He went on through all 13 children, their spouses, 33 grandchildren, and the 5 great grandchildren. Grandma said he prayed for us like that every single night.
~ There is a tradition of telling Grandpa a joke at our family reunions each summer. I always struggle to come up with a good one and I have never won a dollar. Oh well. I will miss telling him a joke this year, but I will tell Grandma one instead. If your joke was really good, he would tell it at church the next week.

I could go on and on... the sound of Grandpa barreling down the hallway from his office, giving Grandpa a kiss on the cheek when he was sitting in his arm chair in the living room, him being a part of my wedding mass, the days he baptized my children. We weren't close, in fact, I was told once by the priest at our church that I was a disappointment to my grandfather because I didn't have enough faith. But he was always a "given". He was, and Grandma too, the foundation of our family. And my heart is heavy wishing that I could have made him proud.

No matter what though, he was my Grandpa Kester. I loved him and I miss him already.

17 comments:

hello gorgeous said...

I'm sure you DID make him proud in everything you did! ;o)

My sympathies to you and your family.

hugs

hello gorgeous xxx
p.s. this is a lush photo ;o)

Cindy said...

Aw, Kerry. You know I'm so sorry for your loss and for your family (especially your Grandma). I can understand why you miss him already...84 years, what a life he lived. And what a handsome sailor he was (I didn't realize he was in the Navy - or Merchant Marines?). What a beautiful tribute to your Grandfather. I'm thinking of you...

kelleysbeads said...

Reading how he named every family member in his dinner prayers nightly made me cry. Hugs & peace to you

Patricia Wood said...

Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man - you made me cry. My sympathies to you and your family. You will be in my prayers today.

Holly said...

I am sorry for you and your family's loss. But I am glad that your grandpa got to live such a long life and be surrounding by such a big and loving family.

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

I am so very sorry for your loss, Kerry. I'm sure he was very proud of you in his own way. Each generation has it's own way of showing affection.

Meredith said...

Kerry, I'm so sorry for your loss, and for your conflicted feelings about it. Wishing you peaceful days ahead...

Kristen said...

Kerry, I'm in tears and am so sorry for your loss. Reading this post doesn't make me feel like there was any lack of how proud he was of you or any one else in the family, and my goodness there are a lot of you! My thoughts are with you. Better get working on that joke for Grandma! :)

CreekHiker said...

Kerry, So very sorry!!!

Shannon said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Hang on to those memories. They are golden. I'm sure more will come to mind now and again. Make sure you write them down so that when your children and grandchildren ask about the sailor in the picture, you'll have a lot to share!

TesoriTrovati said...

That tribute makes me well up. You are so proud of him and his place at the head of your family, whether or not you shared his strength of faith. These are all so vividly described. I am wishing you and Grandma and all 33 family members peace in the knowledge that Grandpa was well-respected and loved. Enjoy the day! Erin

Cindy said...

I have no grandparents left, I am sorry for your loss.

Alice said...

I'm sorry about the loss of your grandfather. I love hearing stories such as the ones you remembered from your childhood. Thank you so much for sharing, and just remember that your grandfather is most likely still saying those prayers for each and every one of you!

Jo said...

I am sorry Kerry. You have written a beautiful tribute.

Silver Parrot said...

Kerry - so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad (also a Navy man) around this same time last year so I can really sympathize. You've written a beautiful tribute here, though, and I'm sure your grandpa would be proud!

RockerJewlz said...

Aw Kerry what a great write up on your grandpa. Now, that person that told you Grandpa was disappointed because you didn't have more faith...that may have disappointed him but it surely doesn't define how he felt about you as a whole. That was just one thing...and reading how faith oriented he was I'm sure a LOT of people in his life had a level of faith that disappointed him!

Doesn't mean he didn't love ya, Chica! This was a great story. Thanks so much for sharing it...even if you ARE the granddaughter of a supposed floozie!

Anonymous said...

Kerry,
I am so sorry for you loss. Your write up of him was beautiful and would make him proud. Take care and you and your family are in my prayers.


Tina McKee