Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hayin' in Heaven - A Tribute to My Grandpa Fay

I'm so blessed to have had my Grandpa Fay in my life for over 38 years. We've always been close, even when we didn't live close to each other. He made time for us. Always greeted me and said good-bye with a hug and a kiss and an "I love you".  I remember going to his house for a week at time during the summers as a kid. Then he and my Grandma Mary would watch us after school when they moved near us. 
 His growing up years were hard. He helped take care of his brothers and sisters during the Depression. This little house is the one Grandpa's father moved the family into when the bank foreclosed on the Wisconsin farm. As a result, he was very close to his siblings. They all worked together to survive, especially when his father died when many of them where still at home.
Grandpa Fay often talked about his grief at not getting more schooling. He passed into the eighth grade, but never went a day. He took over the farming, his father was sick and they needed Grandpa to help out. He never had a chance to go back to school. But the school is still there in Wisconsin, covered in brush and about to fall down.

During WWII he tried to join up as a soldier, but was turned down several times because he is severely color-blind. He did his part by farming during the war, which was badly needed since so many of the farmers were off fighting. He married my Grandma Ellen and buried twin baby girls when Grandma Ellen accidentally fell off a hay wagon when she was nine months pregnant with them. They lived three days.  Here is their grave back in Wisconsin. They're deaths effected them both deeply.

He and Grandma Ellen went on to have five more children (my dad was the baby). He eventually left for Oregon, taking three of the younger children with him. Grandma Ellen passed away from breast cancer when my twin sister and I were babies, so I never knew her.
(left to right: Uncle Bert, Aunt Ada, Russell (Dad), Uncle Amos, Uncle Herbert)

Many years later he married the Grandma I remember growing up. I didn't realize she was a "step" grandma until I was a teenager. She treated us grandkids as her own and I love her for it still. They were very happy together. He took care of her the last ten years of her life and missed her terribly when she passed on. She was Catholic, he was Baptist, but they made it work. I never remember them quarreling about it, even though they where both very strong followers of their faith. He and my Grandma Mary introduced my sis and I to the "Grand Ol' Opry". 
He changed living locations almost as much as he traded horses. Seems like he would trade horses until he finally got a good one, then he would get bored with it because it didn't have enough spunk, and then it was back to horse trading again. My dad's friend, Duane, is a Cowboy poet and in this picture he is reciting "The Horse Trader" poem to my grandpa. You can see the big grin on Grandpa's face. 

When my Grandma Mary died, Grandpa grieved terribly. Regina came into his life (she helped take care of Grandma) because of mutual interests. The last thing they both thought would happen is that they would fall in love. At first I didn't understand it because there was a huge age difference, but after I met Regina, I totally understand how compatible they were and they really did love each other. Regina and Grandpa had 8 years together. I honestly think she helped keep Grandpa young and staying active. Thanks to her, he was able to live his dream even into his twilight years. She took care of him until the end and for that our whole family will forever be grateful. God bless you, Regina!

Grandpa's first love was driving horses, although growing up, I mostly remember him always riding saddle horses with us on cattle drives, parades and horse camping trips. He grew up farming with horses and was still using them for farming/hauling brush up until this Easter when he had a horrible horse driving accident that resulted in a broken neck, back and terrible road rash. He recovered fully to the surprise of many. That is why we were all shocked when we found out he had undetected colon cancer that had spread to his liver. The picture above is one of many parade pics I have of Grandpa. His favorite parade was the Pendleton Round Up, where he had the distinction of being the oldest teamster driving for many years. The Round Up Parade will miss you Grandpa. I will always remember you when I see that chuck wagon go by. He passed his love of driving horses on to my husband who hopes to have his own team someday.
Here is a picture of my Grandpa holding Josiah for the first time. He loved to hold his grand and great-grand babies! Grandpa had so many grandchildren and great grandchildren that I can't count them all off the top of my head. He loved each one, just as he loved his children. Many of his great grandchildren are young adults now and almost all are old enough to remember him. 
Grandpa and Regina greeting my SIL, Sonya, and their great-grandbaby, Elijah, last year at my Dad's 60th.
This is a picture of Grandpa snuggling with Hailey while horse camping at the beach a few years ago.

Often times if you stopped by for a visit, you'd find Grandpa under his trees, sittin' in his chair, and stayin' cool. I can't tell you how active he was though. He even had a heart attack behind his horses while he was working them in the field a few years ago. He thought he was a goner then, but God had other plans and we got to keep him on this earth awhile longer.

Love the smile on his face as Hailey pets the milk cow's huge (overly-friendly) calf as it wondered into the shady spot, too.

This was taken a couple of years ago at Thanksgiving. Love that twinkle in his eye. 
This picture of Grandpa, Michael and Hailey was taken the day before Easter, just before his horse accident. I love the young and the old takin' a breather after the hard work of pulling down some big trees in Grandpa's yard. This picture is so precious to me. I love Grandpa's smile. Michael and Grandpa had a special connection. 

Was Grandpa perfect? He would be the first one to tell you he wasn't and that he had made some pretty big mistakes in his life. But he KNEW he was forgiven by his Savior. I loved what my cousin, Kim, wrote on my FB page, "He was such an incredible man. Critical and impatient, but loving and sensitive, all wrapped up in a hardworking crust."

I went back home for a week so I could visit with Grandpa and say good-bye. Every time I saw him, he would tell me he was ready to go and he wasn't afraid. He knew Jesus was waiting for him on the other side of this earthly life. It was such a comfort to all of us to see him facing death head on, confident of where he was going in the end. 

As I held Grandpa's hand and stroked his forehead one last time before I had to say my final good-bye, he said to me, "You are doing a good job raising your kids. Keep raising them up for the Lord". After one last kiss good-bye, tears were streaming down both our cheeks and as I was walking out the door, he said, "Live a good Christian life, Honey". I was able to choke out, "I promise I will, Grandpa".  And so I shall continue to strive to do just that, despite my imperfections and human frailty. 

"Thank you, Grandpa, for passing your faith down from generation to generation. May you always have descendants living for Christ until Jesus comes back for all of us. You will never be forgotten by me, Michael or my children. Thank you for all the wonderful memories and love you bestowed on your family."

Forever Your Loving Granddaughter, 

My little nephew, Noah, made up this song (with a little help) that I just had to add as a postscript:

"Happy heaven day to you,
 Happy heaven day to you.
We'll miss you great papa, 
Happy heaven day to you, 
Happy heaven day to you.
We'll see you in heaven, 
Happy heaven day to you."


Camille said...

My Sweet friend...this post was just lovely. What a precious tribute to your precious grandpa! How comforting it is to know that he is with the LORD! There is nothing better. Nothing. May the LORD comfort your hearts in these days of grieving. It will only seem to be a moment and the LORD will take us to be with HIM as well. This is temporary. Heaven is permanent. What a glorious thought! Love, Camille

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Camille! thank you so much. Your words are such an encouragement and comfort to me.

Ellen said...

You shared your heart beautifully Jackie. What a blessing that you have such wonderful memories of your Grandpa. I enjoyed the glimpse of his life that you gave and will be praying for your family. ♥

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Tears. That was beautiful and perfect. Thank you.

Nadine said...

Dear Jackie,

May the Lord grant you and your family the comfort and peace that only He can give.
What a blessing it will be to someday be reunited with him again!


aimee said...

Wow, just wow, Jackie! I would have liked your grandpa--he, in ways, reminds me of my own who is also in heaven. So glad your children had a chance to get to know him!
I LOVE his last words to you--what a tribute to his love for God!

Becky L. said...

A special tribute to your grandpa is so sweet. I know you miss him, but great to know there is the promise of heaven becuz of Jesus. The photos are great. Hugs and prayers as you go through this time of grief. He will be with you always as he remains in your memory banks forever. ♥

RaD said...

What a neat post Jackie. A great reflection of your grandpa's life. I'm sure one day your children and maybe even nieces and nephews will appreciate being able to look back on it.

OurCrazyFarm said...

What a beautiful tribute, both the pictures and the words. May God comfort you as you miss your Grandpa for this short time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jackie :)

So many memories of Grandpa and all of them more precious than gold.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how much your sister and you look just like him. A lovely post!


Jill said...

What a beautiful tribute! I am so sorry for your loss, but it looks like he lived a full, amazing life!
Hugs to you and your family, you're in my thoughts and prayers!


Brenda said...

So sorry for your loss, Jackie. As I read it, I was reminded of how often you used to talk about your Grandpa when we worked together. Thank you for sharing your memories of him. Beautiful post!

Taneka Carl said...

Always tough; never easy. It's times like this which remind us of the people we love who are still around and have reached their twilight years. And how we shouldn't cut corners in taking care of them in any way we can. Not to reduce them into dependency, no, but to provide them with treatment and assistance that honors their legacy as well as their age.

Carl @ Heal At Home

Roland Todd @ Comfort Keepers said...

Your grandpa seemed to have lived a full and happy life, with so many people to share his love with and to feel loved in return.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories, Jackie. Losing a family member is always a tough pill to swallow, but it's in keeping their memories alive that allows us to heal from the grief.

Patricia Williams said...

Very well said. He was a giant of a man with a humble way about him. I was privileged to know and love him.


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