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Saying Goodbye

May 02, 2011 by Victoria Strong
I've been a little quiet around here and that is because I've been saying goodbye to one of the most important people in my life -- Grandpa Harry. Losing Harry (and yes, I called him by his name -- everyone did) has been extremely hard. There aren't many men like my grandfather -- he was truly special. He will always be one of the most influential people in my life and I will always feel honored to have been connected to a man like him.

I spent two days in Texas and then six days in Mississippi at his burial and then memorial service and while it wasn't easy, it was so necessary for me to help process his loss. Throughout all of it I was acutely aware of why I was there -- to celebrate an amazing man, to honor him, to remember him, and to grieve...to truly grieve. And I was fully conscious that I was fortunate to be able to process this loss at his graveside and in his home -- something totally dependent on Gwendolyn's current stable health and I didn't take that opportunity for granted. I cried - a lot, I reflected, I laughed thinking of his funny sayings, and I shared stories of why he was so special with all the people who thought so, too.

Everyone came to his burial in Texas and I was able to visit with my aunts, my uncle, my cousins and other family who I rarely get to see. Harry would have liked that. He would have liked seeing all of us together. I was also able to spend the whole week with my sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews. We stayed in his house one last time, looked at old photos, revisited all the places he loved, and reminisced about our life with him. And we grieved together in a way only sisters can and I was thankful for that camaraderie.

Being away from Gwendolyn wasn't easy. I worried and I missed her and knew it was hard on Bill to be on his own for that long. And Gwendolyn missed me. I told her I was going to say goodbye to Harry and she understood, but after a few days she'd had enough. Bill was, of course, amazing and distracted Gwendolyn from my absence by doing extra fun outings: the zoo, the park, special adventures and then texted me the pictures to ease my worry. He always takes such good care of us and I am so grateful that he put everything on hold so that I could be out of town so long. When I got home on Easter Sunday, Gwendolyn was so overwhelmed that she burst into tears, but snuggles and a "Jessie" hat from Texas helped bring her smiles back quickly. And...seeing her so proud in her new red cowgirl hat immediately reminded me of Harry. He was always a Texan at heart and he would have loved this picture of Gwendolyn.

Talk About It

Oh, V. I'm sorry. RIP Harry. I can only imagine what an amazing man and role model he was for you. ((hugs))
Posted by Cass on 2011-05-01 15:23:24
Again My condolences Victoria. Your love for Harry comes across in your words. He must have been an amazing man. You will have another guardian angel looking out for you. Be well Stephen
Posted by stephen taylor on 2011-05-01 15:54:20
So sorry that you had to lose such an amazing man but I am so glad that you had the time with your sister to grieve. Take care of yourself. ((((HUGS))))
Posted by Kristen on 2011-05-01 18:03:38
Yes the cowgirl hat is perfect.
Posted by Margaret on 2011-05-01 18:21:25
I sat and read your words......... your wonderful words. I'm sure there is a lot of Grandpa Harry in your heart and wisdom. While he was such a blessing to you, I'm sure that you and your family with sweet Gwendolyn (lucky 13th great grandchild) was SUCH a blessing to him. They say a man's life can be measured in the humanity of the loved ones he leaves behind.... I would say Harry was a pretty special man. Speaking of special men, I think that Bill is pretty special as well. Being Gwendolyn's entertainment and distraction so she didn't feel blue was a big task that he seems to have passed with flying colors. How special for Gwendolyn and Daddy to have that time together to make memories! big hugs, keep remembering how Harry made the world a better place Penny
Posted by Penny on 2011-05-01 21:30:23

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