So…

…it has been a while.

Sorry about that. The past few weeks have been a bit tumultuous to say the least. I have ran and biked some…I think I remember how to swim. But none of this has been my focus lately.

My grandfather passed away at 91 after a year and a half battle with cancer.

He was my hero. He was the strongest, kindest, bravest, most capable man I have ever known – and the best grandfather any little girl could ask for.

This is an edited re-posting of a of a post I wrote about him a few years ago.

The Empty Chair

When I close my eyes and think of Pop, I am sitting on his shoulders being carried down his fields and through the woods to go play in the sandpits.

I see a giant garden big enough to feed a small town, overflowing with giant vegetables, each carefully tended by my grandfathers hoe.

I see him sitting in his chair by the window, with books piled high all around, on every subject from world religions, history, and psychology to biology, physical science, and geology.

I hear him telling stories about his time in a PT Boat in the South Pacific while he was in the Navy during World War II. He received 4 Bronze Stars.

Strength, bravery, independence, caring, and capability, all rolled up into one.

He and my grandmother (who is a spry 87) were married for 68 years. There are literally hundreds of pictures of them with each other – embracing, laughing, working.

I know she is feeling so lost without him, and it is pretty heartbreaking to see. I spend as much time with her as I can.

When I go to visit her now it is like getting hit with a brick in the chest to see that empty chair…the abandoned garden…his Navy hat hanging by his picture.

I always go out and walk down the field where he used to carry me on his strong shoulders.

I breath in deep.

Warm, happy memories assault me.

I turn and walk back toward the house, to my grandmother.

About caratunkgirl

Short spunky girl from the tiny town of Caratunk, Maine. Active outdoor girl. I am a forester, whitewater raft guide, Ironman and 5x marathoner with Ultra dreams. Always ready for the next adventure with my dog Porter by my side.
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29 Responses to So…

  1. Kristin says:

    Sweet Mandy. I completely understand the pain and greif you are going through. Grandparents are amazing people and especially those that have been through as much as yours and mine have. Your Pop seems like an awesome man. I think your Pop and My Grandpa Big Sam and Grandma Dee are hanging out sharing stories. Having great memories and continuous love for Pop will certainly keep his spirit alive! Loves to you!
    Kristin recently posted..These Days…My Profile

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. My grandfather passed at the age of 98 in November and we buried his ashes on Friday next to my grandmother’s. It brought back a flood of memories and a chance to hear new stories from my aunt about what it was like to grow up with such wonderful parents as hers. My grandmother passed in 2000 and in some ways it was a new lease on life as he had given up so much to care for her. They were married 65 years!

    I really enjoyed the pictures and the trip down your memory lane. What treasures to hold deep in your heart.
    TriMOEngr (Christina) recently posted..Twilight Ride & RoadkillMy Profile

  3. Leonard Campbell says:

    You inspire every parent who will become a grandparent. Sorry for your loss.

  4. Colleen says:

    Oh Mandy… this is such a great post. I know how special your Pop was to you and I know that his memory will live with you forever. Like I’ve said before – he’s watching over you and always will be. Sending you a big hug. xoxo

  5. Regina says:

    Mandy,
    Dont let those memories assault you. Let them warm your heart and bring you fond and loving memories of a truly wonderful person who clearly inspired you.

    The relationship between grandfather and granddaughter is truly special. I lost my Pop when I was 15. I’ve always lamented losing him so young (he was 64) and its an ache that never goes away, but at the same time thoughts of him make me smile.

    I know you’re all rallying around your grandmother, and supporting each other through this difficult time. I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Btw, I am truly impressed by your grandfather’s gardening prowess! I can’t keep my basil plant alive on the windowsill. Some people just have the magic touch (I’m not one of those people).

  6. My friend – I am so sorry for your loss as I know what your Pop meant to you. Our emails have come through the screen with love for him so I know how heart broken you are.

    Its ok to be sad, nobody says you need to be brave in this situations. Mourn the loss of a great person but also keep the memories of your shared lives together. That’ll bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.

    Whatever it is that I can do please do not hesitate to let me know. I may be in Texas physically but I am with you and your family spiritually.
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  7. BDD says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family

  8. Matt Smith says:

    Mandy, I’m so sorry that you lost your grandpa! I know the feeling and know how you’re hurting. He sounds like he was an incredible person and you have terrific memories of him. Before you know it, the sky will split open, and Jesus will come back to resurrect your grandfather and reunite you both! What a day that will be!!! It can’t come soon enough. Hang in there…
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  9. Tracy says:

    You wrote a beautiful tribute to your grandpa. What a blessing to have such a wonderful grandpa and many happy memories.
    I am so sorry for your loss.
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  10. I’m so sorry for your loss! I hope you can be comforted by the fact that you were able to spend so many years with him, I’m sure he was very proud of you!
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  11. Molly says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful collection of memories you have of a great man.
    Molly recently posted..Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…My Profile

  12. Matt Oravec says:

    I love how you capture him w/ your words. Sounds like he was a truly awesome guy!

    Thoughts and prayers heading your way.

  13. That’s really tough, I’m so sorry for your loss. Kelley’s grandparents were married for 68 years as well, and after he spent 6 years in a nursing home, he died and she went only 90 seconds after him. She just couldn’t live without him.
    Carolina John recently posted..New BabyMy Profile

  14. Kovas says:

    Condolences Mandy, that’s a tough loss for your family.
    Kovas recently posted..Week 6: The North Face Endurance 50K TrainingMy Profile

  15. Melanie says:

    So sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved grandfather. All your wonderful memories of him will help you smile…they made me smile and I don’t really ‘know’ you! Keep looking out for your grandmother, too. They look like they were so very much in love.

  16. Anne-Marie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. He sounds like such an amazing person and you wrote a beautiful tribute to him here. I know he’s shining down on you from above!

    Sending you hugs, thoughts and prayers from Pittsburgh.
    Anne-Marie recently posted..January-February-March-April blurMy Profile

  17. Jeff says:

    So sorry Mandy.

    He sounded like a wonderful man who lived a wonderful life.

    I remember you telling me a story last year about him sneaking outside to cut wood in the freezing temps when he was supposed to no be doing anything physical. That is pretty awesome.
    Jeff recently posted..2,160My Profile

  18. Black Knight says:

    I am very sorry for your grandpa. A terrible loss.
    The best memories will always be with you.
    Great tribute for a wonderful person.

  19. Shannon says:

    so sorry to hear that mandy, my thoughts are with you during this difficult time. beautiful post to him!

  20. Jennie says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was a truly amazing person. What a treasure your memories and these fabulous pictures are. Thinking of and praying for you and your family…

  21. Cori Paton says:

    That is a beautiful tribute! I don’t know you or your grandfather but the love certainly shines through. I am sorry for your loss.

  22. Jill says:

    I’m so sorry, girl. He sounded like a wonderful man … how blessed you were to have him in your life! What a great tribute to him, I know he’s up above smiling down on his amazing grand daughter. It’s so hard.

    Big hugs, my friend!!
    Jill recently posted..No Beaching… but a Little RacingMy Profile

  23. Heather says:

    this is a great tribute to him :) Grandparents are so hard to lose.
    Heather recently posted..Recovery, and then what?My Profile

  24. Coy says:

    I’m so sorry about your grandfather. I lost mine last summer in June and he was just like yours! He was part of our nations “greatest generation”. He was an airplane mechanic during the war and i could sit forever and listen to his stories. He and my grandmother were married for over 60 years. I know you’ll miss him!

  25. Marcia says:

    What an amazing man you were blessed to have in your life. So sorry for your loss. May he live forever in your heart.

  26. Mandy, I know exactly how you feel right now. When I go up to Bingham and walk into that empty apartment, it just hits me like a slap in the face. I lost my hero also, but yet, I know that somehow he has found a place with my mom where they are happy again together. Time will heal the hurt, and then the memories get brighter as we hold them closer in our hearts. I still cry over missing mom, she passed in 2007. But, it feels different now, and I cherish the little things I have that were hers. Now with my father gone also, I have begun to realize that this is just a path that we all have to take in life. Please know that you are loved by many around you, and that it will get easier. Big hugs! :)

  27. Hi Mandy-so sorry for your loss. I can’t believe that article was written a few years ago. It seems like yesterday I read it and admired your relationship with your grandfather. Hang in there!
    Alexandra Farlow recently posted..Oregon Trail Journey Part 1My Profile

  28. Erin Lane says:

    And don’t forget the books about bees. I keep a bit of him alive as I learn through his books.
    And I know the empty chair, too. I know it too well. I also know the walk back through the fields to the home where my grandmother still sits in “her” chair. I’m here. I care.

  29. Molly says:

    Hey Mandy, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your Pop was a wonderful man. xo
    Molly recently posted..Boilermaker 15k, Year FiveMy Profile

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