Everyone in my family looks forward to those mornings when my dad cooks breakfast. It’s quite the production and includes eggs, sourdough pancakes, potatoes, bacon, cut fruit, coffee, and juice. As often as possible, he cooks outside on a camping griddle. It’s fun to watch him work, but the real treat is eating what he cooks. The last time he fixed it in my backyard, all his grandchildren sat outside and watched him. Everyone was together for Hadley’s high school graduation.
My dad was and still is, quite fond of Hadley Kay. She was his first grandchild, and was the only one for seven years, until our Sadie Lou came along and all the others followed close behind.
Hadley Kay did this amazing thing with my family. I think she brought us all closer together. We had always been close, but my mom and dad had divorced many years earlier, and my brother, sister and I had scattered across the globe. Hadley Kay was this sweet, little love-bug we all adored and wanted to be around.
It’s not that any of the others wouldn’t have had the same affect, it’s just that she was the lucky one who got to be the first. But dad, was changed by Hadley Kay and then again and again by all the grandchildren who followed her. They gave him the opportunity to reinvent himself from father of three to GRAND father of six, and he did an amazing job of it.
But Hadley Kay took to her grandfather as though they’d been friends in a past life. He would swing her in his arms and she would smile and giggle. Her eyes would sparkle when he came towards me to cradle her in his arms against his big warm chest, or over his forearm in his famous Grandpa Hold. There wasn’t a grandchild of his who could continue to cry once he held them in the Grandpa Hold
When Hadley was little, she and I spent many months at my dad’s house while I waited for my Australian residency. At Christmas, Hadley used to love to sit on his lap and watch the train go around the Christmas tree and hold onto his arm as his old truck drove around the living room floor attached to the box at his side by a long black cord.
Hadley probably doesn’t even know why she adores her grandfather so much. But I do, because I remember all those moments, from all those days, in all those months we spent with him when he was her GRAND father.
Today my dad is in a hospital bed in Portland, Oregon. He is in a great deal of pain as his body struggles to fight the cancer that lives and grows in his liver. After many months of un-ending pain, he questions whether he wants to keep fighting. And I understand. I know how pain and illness can make you forget how it feels to be healthy. It wears you down and you start to believe that you will feel this way forever, so you’d rather just give up the fight and surrender.
So today, this blog is dedicated to my dad. And I ask him to remember moments, hours, days, and events from the past when he was healthy and happy with his grandchildren and his children. Remember how it felt to swing Hadley Kay in your arms. Remember how 21 years later (just this past May) you celebrated your 50th Anniversary of graduating from CU Boulder along side Hadley as she graduated with a degree in Journalism.
Remember Hadley, Sadie, David, Kaylynn, Micheala, K.C., Joni, Jana, and Jack. Remember that we all love you and need you very much. We’re hoping you’ll remember those days and moments of health and happiness with all of us, and that those memories will give you the strength to get through your chemotherapy treatments and the long painful days ahead.
We’re all looking forward to another one of your famous Grandpa breakfasts with eggs and bacon, potatoes and cut fruit, and especially your amazing sourdough pancakes.
Joni is already making plans for your first annual Grandpa Is Cancer-Free celebration at the Cabana on the beach at your house, and we’re all expecting you to cook. 🙂
Good Luck Dad. We love you.