Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Great Grandpas always give advice."

Laura and I are preparing to leave town for a funeral in Arkansas. Matt's Granddad, who was 93, grew ill just in the last few days and died last night.  Matt left home on Friday and was able to get there in time to see him and have one last conversation.

His name, Olen, is also Hank's second middle name. John Henry Olen.  The last few years, Granddad kept up his relationship with the kids by writing them letters.  Laura would write to him, giving him news and photos, and reliably, a letter came right back.  Granddad's letters to the children tended to be short and sweet, neatly typed in all-caps.  When he heard that Hank had started preschool, we got this in the mail:

Master John Henry,

I have been keeping up with your family through your grandma. They tell me that you are going to school now. This is the time to shift gears from being a little boy to a school boy. Mind your teacher as you did your mother. Your parents are both highly educated, sweet, and kind people. You be likewise. You have a lot of ability. Use it.

Great Grandpas always give advice.

I love you. You are a part of me.

PS: The world is changing--go with it or get run over.

I love everything about this but that postscript just kills me. Especially when I think about how much his world changed in his 93 years. One thing about Granddad is that he was always current.

Master John Henry is staying here with my parents; I decided the 20 total hours of driving was too much for him. But the rest of us will gather together in the next few days and see Granddad buried in the family plot in the tiny town where he was born.

Here's to Granddad Olen and to 93 years for all of us.

27 comments:

mmeperpetua said...

Oh, my heart. As a person who uses the word "blessing" maybe once a year, I'm going to go ahead and say that having him was one.

Thoughts and prayers and best to you all.

Aimee said...

Wow, what a remarkable man. Letters like that just get me. My sympathies to the whole family.

Amy said...

"I love you. You are part of me." Precious.
May you rest in peace, Grandad. And here's to a long life well-lived.

Love y'all. Xoxo

Kelly said...

Grandads really do give the most amazing advice. So sorry he is gone. Safe travels and prayers for your family. Let us know if you guys need anything while you're away. xoxox

KathyS said...

How beautiful -- and how wonderful that Hank and Laura will always have those letters. I never met any of my great-grandparents, so I think this is phenomenal beyond belief.

However, I am so, so, so sorry for you and your family, especially Matt, at this loss.

Camp Papa said...

A winning life by anyone's measure. What a legacy!

nova said...

Aw, how nice that you have that letter!

Elizabeth said...

This made me burst into tears. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Thank you. And God Bless your husband's Granddad. He surely blessed all of us tonight.

David said...

That's an amazing letter. Our condolences to you all.

Suburban Princess said...

I am sorry for your family's loss.

I love the letter, he must've been an amazing man.

I gave your blog a little shoutout today on my blog.

kathy said...

What a special way to stay plugged into your grandchildren's lives. The letters he penned are treasures. A simple act that conveys so much love. We love you, and will be praying for your family.

Jenni said...

That is a really great letter. So sorry for you loss, but happy you and your children have his correspondence by which to remember him.

mommyanderson07 said...

Wow, I'm usually a lurker but I just had to comment. What a beautiful story, and a beautiful letter. Brought tears to my eyes. My sympathies to your family.

Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress said...

so sorry to hear this becky. here's to a life well lived.

Veronica said...

So sorry for your loss. How lucky for your kids that they have written memories of their great-granddad's sense of humor!

Beth said...

Wow, what a wonderful thing to have a relationship with your great-granddad, and then something material to remember him by. That letter is beyond sweet. he gives great advice.

Amy said...

It's hard to lose unique and wonderful people, no matter how long and full their life. But what a lovely legacy -- and how many children get to have any interaction at all with their great-grandparents?

The letter totally made me tear up.
Matt obviously comes from a long line of remarkable.

(I could ave just said, "Ditto to Beth," I guess!)

Megan said...

I'm a blubbery mess after reading this. Your sister is right. "I love you. You are a part of me." Simple and beautiful. So very sorry for your loss.

Marsha said...

I enjoyed the active presence of great-grandparents in my life right up until a bit after my 21st birthday. It was then that my father's maternal grandmother died. I didn't quite get it at the time, but now understand that I was incredibly lucky. Seven of my great-grandparents were alive when I was born and I came to know each of them.

I'm glad that your children knew Mr. Olen. He sounds awesome.

Keely said...

Ouch, my heart. I'm so sorry for your loss; it sounds as though he lived a good life and loved well, but it still hurts.

Bella Michelle said...

I just stopped by from Suburban Princess and I didn't quite expect this post but it made me tear up...what a wonderful gift to have a letter from a gramps for your little one. That is a gift we probably won't even fully know the value of. I am so sorry for your family's loss.

(((hugs)))

Becky said...

Hey guys, thanks so much for all your words and thoughts. Today was a long day, but there were lots of happy moments. Great services and a big family reunion. We're heading home in the morning.

Cassie said...

What an incredible letter. And I'm so sorry for your loss, Becky.

Michele R said...

So sorry for your loss. That was incredible that Matt was able to get there when he did. In my family we have had lots of great grandmas (those gals had girl babies at age 21--I broke the chain) but grandpas and great grandpas are gems.

Elle said...

I'm going for 104, myself. I hope you had a swell time seeing all those people you haven't seen since the last time somebody died. xo

A Day That is Dessert said...

Oh Becky - this brought tears to my eyes. All of it. I am sorry for your loss. xoxo

gretchen said...

Okay, that just did me in. Reminds me so much of the letters my Daddy sent me when I moved away - always typewritten, and at the bottom he'd type "Love," and then he'd scrawl "Daddy" in his big, strong handwriting. I so wish he'd lived to write letters like this to Jude. Well now I have to go cry again...