I know you were a big fan of my blog because you got to see all the pictures and goings on without having to bother anyone. I thought I would write this letter to you in hopes you were still checking it.
Grandma Irwin sent me a card that said you would be missed more than you ever expected and that is 100% the truth. So many people came to see you and tell us how wonderful you were and how you touched their lives. I never got a chance to tell you that but I hope you know.
My earliest memories of you are of you sitting at the kitchen table in the corner, reading a book or doing a crossword. When I was little, I would come down the stairs and go the opposite way of the kitchen because I was scared of you. You never yelled or fussed at me so I can’t imagine what I was scared of. As I got older, I wanted to do the crossword but I could never wake up in time to get to it first. I’d come down and you’d have it almost done. I could never help you finish it. If you couldn’t get the words, it was impossible for me. This past Thanksgiving you were still asleep when I got to the newspaper. Of course, I worked on it in pen (you told me I was brave, but really I was stupid). I inevitably got half way through before I needed some assistance and you were there. We finished it together, even though I had made some mistakes (in pen). I remember telling Collin how much fun it was to do that with you. In the back of my mind I thought that it might be the last time. I didn’t want to be right.
You were born on April 11 (411). To me, you were my personal 411. There wasn’t anything I could ask you that you didn’t know the answer to. Sometimes I would just sit in the kitchen and listen to you and Dad discuss anything and everything. I would learn so much just being in that room.
You always wanted to make sure that we were fed well. I ate toast in the mornings and you would tell me how good your whole wheat bread was. I would always make it with white. In the past few years, I’ve learned your wheat bread is pretty good. I remember that you loved spicy cheese (me too) but hated garlic (why? It’s so good!).
You knew so much about Kentucky basketball. Every year Stewart would pick up a new calendar schedule for you. You knew all of the players’ names, where they went to school and if they were any good. You could talk about teams/coaches from twenty years ago.
I miss my college days when you and Grandma would drive over to SIU to pick me up for long weekends and Spring Break. I really cherish that time together. You would always tell me where to stop for the cheapest gas. I used to laugh when Grandma would call and I could hear you in the background telling her not to waste my minutes.
When the family came together this past weekend, we got out old photos. Karen and I loved to see you and Grandma in your younger years. Karen would say, “Grandpa was hot!” There were so many pictures that needed you there to tell their stories. We should’ve gone through them before so we could know them and tell them to our kids.
Grandma told us to go through your clothes to see if we wanted anything. Nick and Karen and I spent a few hours looking at everything. We “stole” all of your cardigans and a few sweaters. Nick got a lot of cool ties and a bathrobe from you. Lori said if you would’ve known that he’d like them, you would’ve given them to him years ago. He looks good in them. I got some pretty cool sweater vests and a cardigan that still smell like you. I love that smell.
I know you loved your grandchildren. When Nick and Jenny were getting ready to leave at Thanksgiving, they told Audrina to tell Grandpa goodbye. When she said it, your eyes just lit up with happiness. I’m so sad that she won’t get to know you, that my children won’t know you.
I find myself crying at random things that remind me of you. I miss you saying, “Well, there you go” and “Oh?” I keep hoping that I’ll turn my head and see you somewhere so that I can give you one last hug. I want you to know that I love you and that I miss you. You had more of an influence on my life than you’ll ever know. I am so lucky to have had you as my grandpa.