Jun 26, 2021

Saying Goodbye

If you know me well, then you probably know at least a little about my grandpa, Paul Crane.  Here he is with his best friend and my grandmother, way back at their wedding shower a long time ago...
Grandma passed away just after Stella's first birthday, and Grandpa and I made the trek to the gulf together to spread her ashes.  They were so close that I worried then that Grandpa may not be with us much longer, but he was a true caretaker and he knew that we still needed him, so he hung around and selflessly loved on all of us for twelve more years.  This is what my grandparents looked like when I was a kid and how they will always live inside my mind...
Grandpa finally got the reunion he had been waiting for when Jesus called him home on June 18, 2021.  Everyone who knew him loved him a lot, especially these great-grandkids...
Darren, Stella, Chase, and Bethany are missing from the photo.  Tabitha and Brigham came down to support us in our time of grief and Briggy did what he does and brought a smile to all of our faces...

The grandkids just missing Jamie and Tres and those who are in heaven with Grandma and Grandpa...

Grandpa loved road trips, so we took his ashes on one final road trip down to Florida so that we could spread them in the same water with Grandma's.  The boat only holds 6 people at a time, so we split into two groups to say goodbye...
After a long day on the bus, the kids were ready to burn some energy on a night swim.  I think Grandpa would have loved this.  When his mother in law passed away he got the entire family rooms at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs and us kids swam and had a big time the night before the funeral.  I am glad the kids were able to celebrate his life by having fun together...
One of Grandpa's best friends, Nick Cox, did an outstanding job of honoring him by performing his memorial service.  I wrote a eulogy that Damon shared because I was too emotional to do so.  I will share it here for those of you who did not have the privilege of knowing my grandfather. 

There are about a million interesting things I could tell you about my grandpa. He was one of my favorite people for more than 42 years, and if you’re here it probably means he was special to you as well. I’ll hit some highlights that stand out when I think of him. 

He caught diphtheria swimming in Hot Springs Creek and spent all of first grade quarantined because of it. He would have died from it, but apparently his mother was as stubborn as he was and she physically carried him to a different doctor for a second opinion after he failed to improve from the first doctor’s treatment. 

When his future mother in law tried to talk him out of marrying grandma, her parting shot was to tell him, “Well I hope you realize, she can’t cook.” His rebuttal was a quick witted, “Well I can!” right before he slammed the door in her face. On their first trip to the grocery store as a married couple he bought grandma the Betty Crocker cookbook and he had their original copy rebound for her as a 50th anniversary present. She was an excellent cook and they were a great team. 

He once declined an opportunity to shake hands with former President Bill Clinton because he was a republican and Bush supporter who had no use for Bill Clinton.  He could hold a grudge forever but never could keep a secret. 

When we were little kids Grandpa would always pick us up to hug us. He would shake you from side to side and and make a noise when he did it. I don’t know how to describe the noise but all 9 of his grandkids know what I’m talking about. When you left his house he gave you a dollar from his pocket for ice cream money, at least until inflation killed the dollar scoop at Baskin Robbins. 

He was always an early adapter of technology, and the first remote control I ever saw was in his house. I know why people call remotes “clickers” because this remote actually clicked. He was also the first person I knew who had a cell phone. He recorded hours of video of us on his beta cam, and later when beta didn’t really pan out he had those videos transferred to a VHS tape that he labeled “Good Kids.”  He always made you feel like you were a good kid. 

He had two speeds when driving, no matter the weather or road conditions. Those two speeds were fast and stop. Anyone who rode with him very far knew the thrill of hurtling along at top speed only to have the wind knocked out of you by your seatbelt when he saw a police car and slammed on the brakes. Grandma had nerves of steel because she always rode shotgun and never flinched, no matter what he did behind the wheel. 

He loved travel and always wanted to see new things and explore a different road home. He shared his adventurous spirit with us by taking us to his favorite places. The girls remember exploring the Chinese tea garden in San Antonio and the boys went to cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. He took us to see his old haunts in Hot Springs. He was always willing to try something new. We took him to New Orleans Mardi Gras in his 80’s; he kayaked and walked around the entire Dallas Cowboys stadium in the freezing cold after a Saints game. He toured a castle with me in California and watched the sea lions. He had a great time exploring with Aaron and taking road trips with Sarah. 

His entrepreneurial spirit was strong and he always had a new business idea. From painting to gum ball machines to purified water to cabinet doors, he never shrank from a challenge and rarely stayed still for very long. 

He tried lots of different hobbies, and many times he used them as a way to connect with people and build relationships. He took an interest in photography and found common ground with his brother. He recommended historical novels and British television shows to me. He put on his Hawaiian swimsuit and took us to the neighborhood pool. I had never seen his legs before that and was a little startled at how white they were. Whatever you wanted to do, that is where he would meet you. He visited Larry and saw his paintings so he picked up a brush and started painting again himself. 

He was a caretaker above all and most of us know that because at some point or other we lived under his roof. If you were lost, he would come find you wherever you were. No corner of the planet was safe if he and grandma wanted to see what you were doing. 

When he downsized after grandma passed away he got rid of most of his material possessions, but he kept the things that were important to him. Those things were pictures of his grandchildren and great grandchildren, artwork the kids had made for him, and special souvenirs like ticket stubs from our graduations and business cards from our jobs. He had a stack of maps and each one was of a place one of us lived. 

As he got older, his mind didn’t work the same way, so one of his paintings he gave me was very simple. On a black background it was just red words that said: To the people we love. It was one of the biggest blessings of my life to be one of the people he loved and I will miss him every day until we meet again in heaven.  

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