My Grandpa gave me my nickname. It started as "Holly-Hugs" because I was an especially affectionate child. It morphed into Holly-Bug, some years into it. He still called me that. Even as a married mother, I was still his Holly-Bug. The nickname has lovingly been passed onto Zoe, and she is now known often as, Zoe-Bug.
He was present at all my big life events, but many of the small ones too. Many of my close friends have met my grandparents, and probably even shared a meal or two with them. They have always been involved in our lives, even when we have been separated by hundreds of miles.
I was asked to speak for one minute at his funeral. My topic, "What I learned from my Grandfather." It is very hard to condense such a special relationship into 60 seconds. How can I possibly convey all my feelings and thoughts into such a tiny window. When I thought about what to say, there are a few memories that came to mind.
As a child, I remember one Christmas in particular, my sisters and I had received the game, "Pretty, Pretty, Princess." The point of the game was to collect all the jewelry pieces and then the winner would receive the crown - becoming the Prettiest Princess. The other adults at our Christmas celebration must have been all played out, but Grandpa agreed to play; and he didn't just half-hardheartedly spin the wheel, he won the game! He wore all the jewelry pieces, including the crown. I'm sure we had a good laugh about it then, but that was the kind of Grandfather he was.
He officiated our wedding in the Sacramento Temple. He married us for time and all eternity - what a special gift he gave to us.
We have been fortunate to live near my grandparents for several months during our married life, and Zoe was able to create a such a unique friendship with her Great-Grandfather. She has spent many hours helping Grandpa in the garden. He was so sweet to her. He would give her special tasks in the garden to make her feel included. He would walk with her up and down the rows and pick raspberries with her. When she got hot and needed a break, he would come inside and color with her or do puzzles.
The love that he had for me as a granddaughter, I understand even more now, having seen the love he has for my daughter. The scene of my Grandfather, holding the hand of a child is a familiar one. That is how he showed his love for us - by holding our hand, ever so gently, and guiding us.
The last time I saw my Grandpa was at Ryan's Graduation, which also happened to be his birthday. I'm sad that it had been so long since our last visit, but glad to know that we shared a special day as our last one together.
During the viewing, I avoided going over to the casket for several minutes, and busied myself with set-up tasks. I just didn't want it to be real. When the time came to bring Zoe over, and say our last good-byes, I was reminded how our bodies are simply shells to house our spirits. It was my Grandfather in the physical sense, but He was clearly not there.
He grew up without a father, but he grew to be a guiding force in all of our lives. He was a true gentlemen and I was privileged to know him.