I remember his big hands. They were very large, yet always gentle.
I remember the love and care he gave my daughters after their father was killed in an accident.
I remember the nick names he gave to both of them. My oldest daughter was “Giggles” and my youngest was “Shadow.”
I remember how he understood my deep grief and sorrow after my husband’s death in a way no one else in the family did because he had also lost his first wife in death.
I remember how he just stood by my side in silence with his big hand on my shoulder in the days following my husband’s death while others in the family would be sharing their opinion on why God had allowed Lonnie to be taken from me and my little daughters. Or, how he would give me a hug at family gatherings when my heart ached for the empty spot at the table where my husband would have sat and no one else in the family even mentioned his name. It seemed at times as if they had never seen him as a part of our family. But I knew that Grandpa Gerling missed him along with me and my girls. He never had to say a word. His hand on my shoulder, his hug, his whisper to me “It will get better in time” said it all.
He was not biologically a grandfather to my girls but if love counts for anything, he was their grandfather. My husband’s family seemed too lost in their own grief after his death to offer any love or comfort to my daughters. My own father had deserted me and my mother when I was 13 and although he came back into my life later he was always very negative when we were around him and critical of me. My hair was too short. My slacks were too tight. So the only love they were shown by a grandfather was my step-dad, Grandpa Gerling.
He has been gone now for many years, but I still miss him. I often think how much he would have enjoyed seeing my daughters’ children, how much he would have showered them with love.
This time of year I always think of him. In the fall he would always fix us his goulash. My girls and I now make that dish – and remember his kindness and love to us.
He was not their “real’ grandfather. They shared no DNA. But he was the only “real” grandfather they knew. Because what makes a man a grandfather is more than sharing his DNA, it is sharing his love.
So as fall comes and I think about the trips at this time of year to Mom and Cliff’s house for goulash, I thank God for giving my daughters a “real” grandpa.