Saying GoodbyeMay 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.