This past Sunday, I received word that my Grandpa had passed away. This was news that I had never thought I would receive simply because I thought Grandpa was too stubborn to die. The call came and I was shocked, I felt as if I had been hit in the stomach with a baseball bat, the life had been knocked out of me, I couldn’t respond, all that I could muster up the strength to do was stand there and remain silent. I had no idea how I was supposed to respond. This is the first time I have experienced a death as close as this, I don’t know how to handle this. Learning how to handle a death in the family isn’t something that we come equipped with, it isn’t something they teach you in high school or college. Death is ironically, only something we deal with as we experience more life. I haven’t lived enough to know how to deal with death. I am 1,000 miles away from my closest family member, needless to say these past two days have been extremely difficult. I may have not experienced something like this, but I have been blessed by the people around me who have and have given me wisdom to get through this difficult time. The three things that have helped me the most, through this time have been. Honor my Grandpa, remembering who my Grandpa was, he had lived a life that made it very easy to honor him. Hardworking, I have never met a man in my life who was more hard working than my Grandpa was. He always worked extremely hard at whatever he did, and he always became successful at it. He worked a variety of jobs to provide for his family, and his work ethic carried out even through his retirement. He is the only person I have ever met that worked hard everyday throughout retirement. For the last twenty years I always remember how Grandpa was tending his “small garden” which was more like a small farm (really it was twice the size of most people’s backyards) . He worked diligently and tirelessly in that garden, because that is what he loved to do, work hard. Dedication, Grandpa was dedicated to doing his best for not only himself, but even putting the family first even if it meant more work for himself. Loving, Grandpa was an extremely loving person. He loved every single one of his children so much, each child of his felt his love as an individual and as a family. He loved every single one of his grandchildren so much, that there was never a time where Grandpa didn’t greet you with a warm hug and an even warmer look followed by a simple “why hello there” which we knew meant I love you and I am proud of you. Grandpa loved Grandma more than I knew you could ever love someone. They were married over 60 years and there wasn’t anything that my Grandpa wouldn’t do to ensure the well being of my Grandma. Loyal, if you look up loyalty in the dictionary, George Wrede’s picture should be next to it. My Grandpa was the most loyal friend anyone could ever have. Whenever any of his friends were going through something, Grandpa was there, whether it was picking them up to take them to dialysis or helping them with yardwork or simply just being a friend, Grandpa was there for his friends. He never complained about it, rather he did all of these things with joy becayse he knew, that is just simply how you act as a friend, father, husband, and as a Grandpa.
Who was Grandpa to me as an individual? My Grandpa loved me unconditionally, never afraid to tell me that he loved me no matter what project I had messed up on or if I had accidentally balded his lawn with the mower. I always felt nothing but love. Grandpa was never afraid to put me to work, sometimes it was to the point where it was somewhat annoying, but it instilled a work ethic in me that I know will carry on through the rest of my life. My Grandpa was such a huge support in my college career. I cannot begin to express how awesome I felt hearing the words “I’m proud of how well you are doing in college and in work”. Grandpa was so quick to encourage me in what I was doing academically and career wise. Grandpa was such an influential part of making me who I am today.
How do I honor my Grandpa? I take the example that he has laid before me and follow in his footsteps. Living my life not for myself , rather living to help out others through being the best version of myself that I can be.
The next thing that I have learned through this process is that it is important to be with your family. When you are 1,000 miles away from your nearest family member, it is extremely hard to face the death of the family patriarch. My family is so important to me, and the importance of family is something that I learned from my Grandpa. He always made it very clear that family sticks together no matter what is going on. Family is a unit that functions together in order to provide support for eachother. Being away from parents, siblings, aunts & uncles, and cousins has been hard on me. (Luckily I am currently flying home, and I get to be there for my family, with my family). The family legacy that my Grandpa left behind is strong and we are a stronger unit because of him.
The last thing that I learned today from one of my friends was the advice “don’t forget to take the time to mourn, because if you don’t it’s not good and you will carry it with you”. These were some very important words for me to hear. They have been running through my head all day and I have spent all day thinking about the importance of mourning. These words which were spoken to me actually inspired me to write this post. (As I sit here on the plane tearing up after almost every word and memory I have of my Grandpa passes through my mind, it is truly helping through this difficult process.) Mourning allows for healing. Taking the time to process through my loss is helping me rejoice in the life that my Grandpa lived, remembering the legacy that he is leaving through his family. I am learning to let go, to celebrate the life and to be there to help my family go through the same process.
Grandpa Wrede, thank you so much for who you were/who you will continue to be in the lives of your family and friends. You leave behind a great legacy, a family who will never be the same without you and who is better off from the man you were to each individual. You will be missed and always be loved.