My Grandpa, My Hero

11:21 PM

My grandpa Kent passed away yesterday.  It wasn't unexpected, but that doesn't make it any less devastating.  As we prepared for the funeral I took advantage of the sleepless nights to write down my memories of my grandpa.  He truly was my hero when I was growing up and I wanted to be just like him.

My grandpa retired the year I was born, so he was always around when I was growing up. He only had two children and my Uncle and his family lived in other states for most of my childhood, so my grandpa spent many days with my Mom and us kids until my Grandma retired.  I loved it. It was easy to see and feel how much he loved his grandchildren. My grandpa was always hard of hearing and wore hearing aids for as long as I can remember. When I was young I used to pretend that I couldn't hear sometimes because I wanted to wear hearing aids too, just like my grandpa.

My grandpa served a mission to Sweden when he was young.  He was always very proud of his Swedish mission. I asked him to teach me Swedish when I was younger and he taught me how to say "I love you." I can still remember to this day.

My grandparents took us camping to Payson Lakes nearly every summer when we were little. They had motor bikes that they loved. Their trailer was small, but cozy. Kristin and I slept on the bunk. My grandpa told us that my grandma snored and we thought it was the funniest thing in the world.

My grandparents came on nearly all our family vacations when we were growing up. They loved to travel with their children and their grandchildren. I remember the first time I went to New York, I was 7 years old. My grandparents came with us and we climbed all the way to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty.  That's one of my most vibrant childhood memories - I remember there were so many stairs and we all made it to the top. It was really cold in New York when we went and so my parents and grandparents helped keep me warm by buying me hats and sweatshirts.

After that we traveled with them on several cruises, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Disneyland. My grandparents are in nearly all of my major childhood memories - they were always there. The first cruise we went on was the summer before 8th grade. My grandparents came and we decided to dress up for formal night. All the guys rented tuxes and we packed plenty of dresses. Before dinner there was a cocktail party with dancing. I remember dancing with my grandpa that night, what a great night.

When my parents went on vacation without us kids, my grandparents always watched us. They would carpool, make us dinner, and just hangout with us. We all loved it. If it was during the summer we would go to their house. If it was during the school year they would come stay at our house. My grandparents always planned fun activities for us like the Heber Creeper or wading at South Fork. Every summer we would spend time with my grandparents and they would find fun activities for us to do. My grandma enjoyed scrapbooking so she would teach me and my sister how to organize photos. My grandpa would tell us stories. It was so much fun.

My grandpa was a bishop for a young married ward at BYU when I was younger. He loved being Bishop. I remember one Halloween my parents neighborhood was doing secret treats where a "ghost" would deliver treats to a house and you would post a picture of a ghost in your window and then pay it forward to someone else.  My grandpa loved this idea and so we baked some cookies and my grandparents, my sister, and myself doorbell ditched several of the people in his ward and left secret treats.  He planned that we would deliver treats to apartments that were across from each other, so my sister and I could both leave treats. He would stand back and tell us when to knock, we would knock on both of the doors at the same time, and then we all ran away. It was so much fun. My grandpa loved stuff like that.

I remember how much my grandpa loved being the Bishop of the BYU ward. Several years after he as released I remember him telling me that he counseled many of the people in his ward who were struggling with different types of issues. He said he would give them a picture of the Savior and on the back he wrote "Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me."  It's very fitting we will be singing that hymn at his funeral next week.

My grandpa was always  very organized and their house was always spotless.  It makes sense that my sister and I are also super organized - I think we got it from my grandparents. Everything in his house had a place. They lived in their house in Provo for over 40 years. It wasn't a very big house, but it was always organized.  I remember him installing outlets in closets just to make it easier to charge computers. My grandparents have a beautiful round table in their kitchen. I remember my grandpa saying once that he always wanted a round kitchen table, because it's easy to make room for one more person at the table. He truly lived what he taught and had an open home with plenty of room in their kitchen and plenty of food on the table.

My grandparents always loved entertaining. They would love for us to come by unannounced and they would always feed us. This was especially fun in the summer because they had an outdoor patio at the house in Provo where we could eat dinner. My grandparents always had watermelon and it was always my favorite, except my grandpa would put salt on it. I never understood that, but it's something I remember and find endearing.

My dad always had season tickets to BYU football games with his brother, Kim. I went to almost all of the football games when I was growing up with my Dad and my Uncle. My grandparents also always had season tickets and they sat on the other side of the stadium from us. I can still remember I could use my Dad's binoculars to find Portal C and then go two rows up and a little to the left to find my grandparents. Usually in the second half there were empty seats around them and I would go and sit with my grandparents. I loved it. My grandpa packed a little duffel bag to the games that had blankets, apples, and black licorice. I never liked black licorice, but my Grandpa loved it.

My grandparents ALWAYS came to our house for Christmas. We would always see our presents from Santa and then wait for my grandparents to get to our house to have aebleskivers and open presents from our family. My grandpa loved being with his family and loved Christmas. This year will be the first Christmas in my life where he's not at our house - that will be really hard.

When I was in middle school my grandpa was called to be the Temple Recorder in the Provo Temple. He was so proud. I remember he called me and asked me if I got called to the Principals Office that day at school. I thought that was such a strange question and told him that I hadn't. He told he that he had been called to the Principal's Office for a special calling. He was so excited. I didn't know what being a Recorder meant, but I was happy for him. He had a very strong testimony of the church.

When I went to BYU my grandparents had just begun serving a mission to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I missed them a lot in Provo. They loved their missionaries - they served primarily in the office. When they came home from their mission they had some of their missionaries who were at BYU come over and invited me as well. It was easy to see how much my grandparents loved their missionaries and how much the missionaries loved my grandparents. I was incredibly proud to call them mine.

After they came home from their mission I worked remotely at their house in the mornings before school. They always made me a hot breakfast. I loved eating breakfast with them several days a week while I was at BYU. I don't really remember what we talked about, but I remember how comfortable it felt. And I wasn't about to turn down a meal when I was in college.

Eric used to stay at their house when he would visit me in Provo over the weekends. They loved having him at their house and always made sure he felt welcome. Eric proposed to me on a Friday and he stayed with my grandparents the night before. He said that the morning he proposed my grandparents made him breakfast and my grandpa found a plastic ring and told him to propose to me with that. I'm grateful they were part of that incredible day in our life.

After we were married we had my grandparents over to our apartment for dinner a few times. We had planned for them to have dinner at our house the day Skylee was born.  We came home from church, made dinner and enjoyed visiting with my grandparents while we were anxiously waiting for Skylee to make her debut. My grandpa told us about how my grandma found new art for the mission office - that was one of his favorite stories from their mission. My grandpa didn't tell stories very fast and I remember being very impatient because I wanted to head to the hospital to wait for Skylee to be born. He loved telling that story and I'm so glad he took the time to tell it again that day. As soon as dinner was over Eric and I headed to the hospital just in time to be there for when Skylee was born. I'm so glad that my grandparents were part of that special day.

When Skylee was born my grandpa gave my sister a blanket that he blessed my Mom in. They didn't have a lot of money when my Mom was born, but he wanted to have a friend make a blanket for my Mom. In exchange for the blanket my Grandpa did odd jobs to trade for the blanket. Dan blessed Skylee in that very same blanket and I can't wait to someday have my children blessed wrapped in the same blanket that my Grandpa held my Mom in. My grandpa loved little Skylee Dallas.

I spent a few years of my career traveling for work. My grandpa always called me the "traveling lady," and often began conversations by asking how the "traveling lady" was doing.

A few years ago we went with our entire family to Disneyland. My grandparents got scooters to help them get around. We had so much fun with them and we were so grateful they were able to come with us. One afternoon my grandparents told us they were going to ride the Ferris Wheel. After awhile we hadn't heard from them and wondered where they were. Eric and my Dad went looking for them and found them riding the carnival rides on the pier. It was so great. They loved riding the carnival rides, and so we spent the afternoon riding with them. One of my favorite pictures in the world is riding the Golden Zephyr together - my grandparents were so happy. We also rode the carousel with all of us while we were there - my grandparents sat on the bench. To this day, that ride reminds of my grandparents and it's one of my favorites in all of Disneyland.

We went on Radiator Springs Racers with my grandparents and there is a room where Ramone "paints" the cars and they have mirrors. I remember my Grandpa had the biggest smile on his face - it was beautiful. That night we were hanging out in Cars Land and my grandparents were sitting in their scooters. Some oldies music was playing and my grandpa was telling us how he used to dance the Jitterbug to that song. Jake asked my grandpa if he still remembered how to dance the jitterbug and he said that he did. Jake then asked my grandma the same question and she also said that she remembered. He then asked why they were still sitting in their chairs instead of dancing, so they started dancing the Jitterbug in Disneyland. It was so precious and truly a cherished memory.

The last few years have been very difficult for my grandpa. His health was declining and his alzheimers was advancing. It must have been so frustrating and difficult for him. However, he always wanted to be with his family. Even when it was painful and he couldn't even hear our conversations, he just wanted to be sitting with his family. He was so kind, humble, and patient. Even though I'm sure it was so hard for him to feel his heath decline he never raised his voice or said anything unkind to me. He was so kind and humble and patient with all of us as we adjusted to the "new" normal. I can't even imagine how challenging that must have been for him, and this truly exemplifies the Pure Love of Christ for me.

Last Thanksgiving we were gathered together at my parents house. He gathered the family together and told us that there were very few "Grand Ladies" in the world and that my grandmother was one of them. He gave her the sweetest tribute. She was his caregiver for the last several years as his health declined. It was easy to see how much he loved her. They were married for nearly 57 years.

The day Eric and I moved into our house my grandparents came over. We were so busy with the move, but I was so grateful they came over. We got my grandpa in a chair and we visited for a few minutes and then got back to work. He sat patiently in the chair while we continued to work - he just wanted to be with us even though he knew he wouldn't be able to help. I so wish I would have taken a picture with them that day.

Last Wednesday was the last day that I really talked to him. He was very sick and really couldn't say very much or hold a conversation. I told him about our Disneyland trip and showed him pictures on Eric's phone. The last thing that he said to me was "You kids have so much fun."  I told him that I loved him and gave him a kiss goodbye. Even though I saw him after that, I don't know if he knew I was there, so I'm so grateful I was able to talk to him that day. I felt like he was proud of me and Eric.

Needless to say, I miss my grandpa so much. He was the hero of my childhood and a role model for my adult life. His kindness and fun attitude will be his legacy for me. I'm devastated by this loss, but I'm so grateful to be his granddaughter. Right after he passed I imagined what a glorious reunion he must have had with his parents and extended family. My grandpa loved his family and stayed in touch with most of his cousins his entire life. It must have been so incredible for him to see them again. I'm comforted by the fact that he's watching over my future children - I'm sure he will teach them to be kind and to always have fun, and he's smiling his mischievous smile at them. He can walk, he can hear, and he's free of the pain that's plagued him the last several years. I'm so grateful for the atonement and the knowledge that I will see my grandpa again and that he will be the Hero that I remember from my childhood. I love you grandpa!

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