Thursday, April 3, 2014

Remembering my Grandpa

My Grandpa. John C. Koehler, born April 19, 1921. Great Grandpa to Lola and Ellie.  A firm, but gentle man whom I admired and loved dearly, went to be with our Lord this past Monday, March 31, 2014.
 My Grandfather was the patriarch of the Koehler family.

Stacie, “My Bestest and Worstest Granddaughter,” he would always say. I do not think I will ever forget the love that poured through his voice when he said that.  You see, I was his one and only Granddaughter and though he was a tough man, when it came to me he was a pretty big softy. I was one lucky girl! I was spoiled by his love, attention, and admiration. Grandpa K, (what all his grandkids called him) made me my very first two-wheel bike for my fifth birthday. I remember that bike like it was yesterday. The bike was the perfect shade of purple, my very favorite color at the time  It had a dark glittery purple banana seat, and the prettiest handle bar tassels money could buy. No detail was missed- not even the JK initials that my Grandpa plastered everywhere; it was the perfect bike made with so much love. Growing up, I have the fondest memories of my grandfather; camping with him, watching him carve our Thanksgiving turkey each and every year, listening to him tell me stories of his travels, as well as sing me songs like “ate a peanut“ or “It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring, he went to be and bumped his head and couldn’t get back in the morning.” I can still hear him proclaim that he would punch us to the moon and can even still feel him pull half-dollars out of my ears. Some of my Grandpa’s famous sayings were: “So? Sew buttons on your underwear and watch them fall off.” When I asked my Grandpa if he slept well, his famous response was: “I didn’t wake up to find out.” I will have to admit that I use those two sayings quite often. Above all, I can never recall my Grandma K raising his voice, or frankly ever getting too upset. This man was even keeled, happy. Anytime I would call to chat and ask my Grandpa how he was doing, his response was always the same: “Great! Nothing to complain about here.” Even as his eyes gave way and his body started to fail him, he stated with much conviction and positive spirit, “I’m Great Stacie, Nothing to complain about here!”  Man, can we all learn a lot from an attitude like Grandpa K’s.  

When it came to Grandpa duties, Grandpa K was a trooper. I know he might not have wanted to sit through my dance recitals, cheer competitions, and swim meets- but that’s what he did.  And man did he do it with grace. I remember one time in particular, when most all other likely supporters were working (I always joked with my Grandpa that he never worked a day in my life, he retired the year I was born) and no one was going to be able to attend my cheer performance at a local high school. My lone Grandpa showed up, hung out with the team, watched the performance, and even agreed to take a few of my friends and me to ice cream afterwards. Grandpa K was so invested in all of our lives, it is no wonder that our hearts break at the thought of him no longer being with us.  

One of my very fondest memories was how beautiful my Grandpa’s garden was; it was filled with tons of beautiful flowers. The most beautiful of them was his display of daffodils that lined my grandparent’s long driveway. It was a sight to see. When spring came, their driveway turned into God’s masterpiece of yellow blooms. Each summer my grandpa would dig up his daffodil bulbs and pass some along to me, so I too could have a garden of daffodils. Even when I went away to college and in the years that followed, I would receive a box of bulbs each summer with a sweet note reminding me how to care for the them. How thoughtful my Grandpa was, like when I moved into my condo, which had just a patio and no garden space. What did I receive in the mail from him but a book entitled “Gardening in Containers.” 

{I made this scrap book page for my grandpa years back}

My grandpa taught me many things through gardening; one of which was patience (that one’s a work in progress). He taught me to see God’s beauty and miracles through cultivating a garden. 

When I met Tony, my husband, my Grandpa welcomed him with open arms as he did each of his grandchildren’s spouses. Tony and my Grandpa seemed to be cut from the same cloth. They adored each other’s company. Though maybe that was just my Grandpa’s spirit, because when you were with him you felt adored by him.  I am so grateful that my twin daughters got to know him and I pray that the memory of love he showed to them will live in their hearts always. 

A cute story  comes to mind when reflecting on how much my Grandpa adored and loved his family… You see, my grandparents were taking a cruise shortly after I had Lola and Ellie.  The cruise was destined for Mexico. On the ship’s way down south from the San Francisco Bay Area, it was stopped in its tracks due to the “Swine Flu” outbreak. Lucky us the ship‘s detour was the Port of San Diego.  My grandmother confessed to me that my Grandpa was thrilled and didn’t care about missing Mexico; he was so excited to meet his great granddaughters for the first time.  

Did I mention my Grandpa was a FANTASTIC dancer! 
My grandma still says that my grandpa won her over with his dance moves. 

 My Grandparents… an example of marriage.These two love birds were married for 69 years!

My Grandpa was a special, special man. He led by quiet example and was a leader. He was respected and revered. He was full of life, full of wisdom, and deeply faithful. He was a truly happy man and his happiness was very contagious. I will never, ever forget his laugh and his sweet, sweet smile. I was lucky to be his granddaughter, to have him constant and present in my life. 
I love you Grandpa and miss you already. 
 Love, your bestest and worstest granddaughter Stacie. 

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