Dear Grandpa Kenny,
You don’t remember me, but you recognize me. Either that, or you can still pretend to know people pretty well. You came to my wedding last year. You knew before I did that I was going to marry Doug. You told my dad that “I think the grandkids are getting married” because “they seemed like they were hiding something from me” when we brought you back to the assisted living facility after Thanksgiving dinner in 2013. You knew who I was then, although my name had slipped your memory. You figured out who Doug was, too. We all took pictures with you before everyone scattered for the rest of December. You had gotten worn out, trying to remember things. That happens faster now.
I remember doing so much with you as I was growing up—it helped that you were right here in Cottonwood. I don’t know how many times you “retired” from farming, but you didn’t stop until you realized that you were forgetting too many things to continue. I respect that you voluntarily stepped out. It takes courage! Your wit has always been so quick, and I’m so glad that it stayed as long as it did!
The way you loved and cared for Grandma Lois was…inspiring. You and Grandma went through some pretty hard stuff in your years here in Cottonwood. I am so proud of you. Now, living in a memory care unit, not remembering many things, you are making do. You are living your life as best you can. You recognize people you see every day, and you are still you. You are still my grandpa. Forever and always.
Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like if I could talk to you and you knew what is going on. If you could answer questions. If you could tell me about meeting your sons- and daughter- in laws. If you could tell me about work on the farm in your day compared to what it is now. What would your opinion be on all of the issues going on in the world? Would your wit be even more on top of things than I remember? What advice would you be able to give me? My dad wonders it, too. Was he this much like Laura when he was starting to take on responsibilities of the farm? What would you tell her? Or Christina? Or me? Would you watch my life as I lived it and smile? Would you have ideas of what else I could do? Now I wonder how much longer you’ll be here with us. Will you live to see a great-grandchild? Would you comprehend that a baby was your great-grandchild? (Not that any of your grandkids have started making babies, but give it time.)
It’s hard watching age catch up with you. I had never seen a gray hair until you stopped greasing your hair every morning when you moved to assisted living. But your smile, though now faded slightly, always puts a smile on my own face. You and Grandma were like that—smiling, joking, loving. Do you miss Grandma? I miss both her and you. We are all growing older now. I have to do grown-up things like pay bills, schedule doctor’s appointments, clean house, etc. Katrina, your oldest granddaughter, got married last week. Mine was the only grandchild wedding you will be present for, and I am both honored and saddened by that. I am so glad that you still welcome my hugs when I give you one, because I think that would hurt worse. I love you, Grandpa. I won’t get to see you for a while now, and I’m a little bit nervous at what I’ll find next time. But I love you, the memory of who you were, and the very being you still are today, though it doesn’t remember as much.
See you soon,
You Favorite Meyer Granddaughter (though you may only remember me as your favorite Olson Granddaughter…..),