Thursday, October 2, 2008

Till we meet again, dear grandpa

In the early morning hours today, my grandpa Herman passed on from this earthly existence to return home to a realm he knew long before he was born. Grandpa turned 88 this past February and has been struggling physically and mentally for quite some time. His once strong and square Zobrist frame grew weak and feeble with age. I know that he was weary of the life he was having to live. I know he was ready to move on. I know it is a blessing that he was able to go. But regardless of what I know, I still have regrets that grandpa is gone because it has been a long time since I've seen him. I felt similar regret when Brad's Grandma Grace died earlier this summer. It seems that I all-too-often allow myself to fall victim to the day-to-day busyness of life and the lack of time to do all that is needed each day. I do regret that I did not tell my grandpa goodbye. I know he will forgive me - I hope he knows I'm sorry.

When I was a little girl, my grandpa of stern, strong Swiss heritage, was not what you would call a warm, loving, or tender grandpa. During my childhood, grandpa did not have much affection for little kids. Thankfully, he at least tolerated us, and consequently, I have many memories of gathering with my aunts, uncles, and cousins at his and grandma's home for countless Thanksgiving dinners and summer swims in their pool. For the most part, grandpa just stayed out of the way, and was always happy to give us a hug and a kiss when we went home. As I think about grandpa, I think of all the things I remember that formed my impressions of who he was. To me, grandpa was a -

  • driver of Lincoln Town cars
  • owner of Hostess & Wonder Bread (in reality he and his brothers owned the distribution company for these products in Las Vegas only, but to me, grandpa owned Wonder Bread & Hostess).
  • reader of Louis L'Amour novels
  • jeweler who collected polished stones and rocks and made big gold rings with them.
  • temple server - dedicating many hours of service in both the St. George and Las Vegas temples
  • user of curse words - saying things like "sam hell" (as in "what in the sam hell is she thinking?") along with a few other words I won't repeat. Grandma always got after him for saying such words in front of the grandkids. I wonder if he ever said "sam hell" in the temple?
  • connoisseur of strange meat - He ate all the inside parts and left over parts of animals that make most people gag. I remember being intrigued and grossed-out, at the same time, by what was in their refrigerator. Once my siblings & I were staying at grandma & grandpas while my mom was having a baby. They fed us ox tails for dinner & told us they were ribs. I remember thinking that those were the strangest tasting ribs I had ever had.
  • proud son and grandfather - proud of his parents, his Swiss heritage, and his posterity.
  • TV watcher - grandpa was an avid TV fan. I don't remember a time that I went to see him as a kid when he wasn't in front of the TV. He was all about TV, which I think began when my dad was a kid. My dad tells me their family was the first one on their block to get a TV. I know that grandpa continued to be the "first" when it came to TV - the first to get a remote (I remember this archaic remote he had that had about 2 buttons on it) and the first to get a beta max recorder - which he obviously had to then go out & replace with a VHS recorder.
  • recorder of nature programs that he would send home for us to watch - which we never did.
  • lounger - I think grandpa must have liked hanging out in his underwear, because just about every time we went to visit on a Sunday afternoon, grandma would say, "come in, but wait right here until I get grandpa his pants."
  • world traveler and memorabilia collector
  • photographer of flowers and scenery taken on his world traveling adventure (I mean hundreds of photos of flowers and scenery from each trip!)
  • wannabe Hawaiian - spending months out of every year in his condo on the Big Island.
  • deep sea fisherman - a marlin he had caught hung over his couch for years
As grandpa got older, I saw a softer side of him that I did not see in my childhood. I remember telling my dad about a time in the past 5-10 years that grandpa told me he loved me, as this was a rare occurrence. But even though he didn't tell me he loved me, I knew that he did. Grandpa was always very proud of his posterity. The picture up above was taken at our last Zobrist family reunion at the end of June in 2007. I kind of wish he wasn't holding grandma's purse, just because I think the picture would have turned out better, but then, the fact that he is holding grandma's purse reveals a softer side that I did not see as a child. While at that reunion, I asked grandpa (and recorded it on video) what he thought of such an immense gathering of people that came from he and grandma (in June '07 that meant - 6 children, 34 grandchildren, 110 great grandchildren, 17 great-great grandchildren.) He talked about what a blessing the family was to him. He said that he was very glad that none of the ships that he happened to be on when he served in the Navy sank, or his family would have never existed. He talked about his wonderful family heritage that began with his own (and grandma's) parents. He then said to me, "days like these, they touch the heart." Then choking back tears, said "that's all."

And now, my grandpa can say "that's all," for his life on earth, and I can say "goodbye" for a time. I absolutely know I will see him again. Our beings are eternal, there is just no way they are not. It is part of who I am to know this truth. So, knowing what I know, I can't help but wonder what grandpa is doing today. I hope he is learning how to be nice to my grandma, and I hope he is realizing how blessed he was to marry her. I hope he is having a joyous reunion with his mom & dad and his sister and brother. I hope that he says hi to grandma K and grandma Grace and granddaddy Cornell. I hope my family and Brad's are connected, not just in this life, but in our "real" life, our eternal life. I am overwhelming thankful for Heavenly Father's plan for His children. "God be with us till we meet again."


averett's said...

That was beautiful LaRae! What a funny man grandpa was! I am so happy for him to be free from his earthly struggles, but a little sad for the rest of us. I hadn't been able to come and see grandpa since that last family reunion in 2007. I feel so guilty about that and hope that grandpa will also forgive me for being lousy at coming to visit! I have to throw in one more memory of grandpa to add to your list. He LOVED the cartoon Duck Tales! He used to record them and give them to my little brothers! I remember coming to visit and he would be sitting and watching them! My boys and I and Angie are heading down for the funeral! Hope to see you there!

JK said...

What a beautiful tribute, LaRae. We send our love and sympathy upon Grandpa Zobrist's passing. This is a sweet and spiritual time for your family as you draw closer to Heavenly Father in remembrance of a great man, his good works, his faith in the Gospel and his wonderful posterity. We are reminded during these times to increase the goodness in our lives so that we can once again be reunited with our loved ones. Ken and Judy

Marianne said...

This was a wonderful post. It was sad to here the news this morning, but i know he is happier now. I know he had a very hard time remembering things. But the last time i saw him he told us all about the swiss alps he had visited. He had a picture hanging in the room. It was amazing he could still remember about that to tell us. We will miss him. We love Great grandpa. We are planing to come to the funeral so we will see you then.

Janae said...

Great post LaRae:)
I am glad for Grandpa that he no longer has to be in such physical and mental pain.

Staci Leach said...

Thank You! You have such a way with words. I love to hear your memories and compare them to mine, So many the same. Famous words Grandpa lived by:" Put your pants on"! Famous words he said, "Hey Toots!" For me the most common words he had said in the last 5 years would have to be,"Gettin Old sucks!" We will all miss him!

Linda said...

Once again, your post has brought tears to my eyes,LaRae. I especially liked the "lounging in the underwear" reference. Isn't it great to have our memories?
AND our testimonies of the Plan!

judy lucy said...

I'm so glad you took the time to remember the details that made you love your Grandpa; I enjoyed reading it. You didn't tell us - did you like the ox tails?

LaRae said...

Dear cousins - I love the things that remind you of grandpa - I forgot a few things "Toots" is a good one staci! Judy - I definitely did NOT like the ox tails. I wondered what my grandparents had done to ruin the ribs they fed us. It was my parents who laughed when we told them about our "ribs" and they told us they were actually ox tails.

Todd and Michele Askeroth said...

LaRae, I was with Julie today and we were doing some service for a sister in our ward, and she told me how her Grandpa Zobrist passed away. She has talked about him so many times. I knew he was struggling. I am sure he is feeling quite free from the bondage he has suffered in the last few years. What a great post and tribute to him. I too enjoyed reading it.

mitch the zob said...

Good job Rae Rae. I remember when Grandpa would waddle down the dock at valley. He would ask if we had any good avocado's.I would show him the ones that were not ripe yet,let him start to get annoyed then dig deep behind some boxes where i would stash some to get ripe. HE SURE LOVED GOOD PRODUCE. He used to also bring over stew in mason or mayo jars,it was good but now i wonder if there was some mystery meat in there.

annilee said...

What a wonderful tribute! I am sorry to her about your grandpa! It's never easy!

Micalanne said...

I have been thinking of you and your family quite a bit since this post. I hope the day of the funeral was filled with sweetness that helped to overcome the sadness of losing a loved one.

Gerry said...

Well put Rae Rae, Well put . . . Although I also missed some good opportunities to visit, I saw him just a week or two before his passing.

I'll never forget his final greeting to me: "Hey Ger. You got BIG." :-)