Winter is now late summer and I know I don’t want to go back.
I’m not going to forget the image of my dad and his three brothers–four sons–putting on grandpa’s John Deere baseball hats, carrying his coffin to the hearse on that snowy January day.
The family stood watching, shivering, laughing and grieving, in the crisp and chill Michigan air. Several days prior his soul had suddenly left this Earth to be with God, but now the finality was sticking, and I had never lost a grandparent before.
And it hits again.
It was so real, so raw, so weird.
I stood beside the grave stone.
My Batdorff family created memories each summer and winter. Summer campouts were filled with cousin playground and forest fort-building fun, rides up and down the Michigan hills in a wagon behind grandpa’s John Deere tractor, frequent trips to Lake Michigan and Charlevoix beaches, and hikes through the forest with grandpa, always ready to teach about the woods and game hunting stories. Visiting Charlevoix as an adult was filled with campfires and laughing and climbing dunes and discussing the most random and the most intellectual thoughts.
My grandfather was a farmer, a railroad worker, a cement plant repairmen, and an outdoorsman, a true outdoorsman, for as long as I’d known him, yet he took interest and cared to hear about my city job. He saw my city apartment. He was happy because I was happy. Showing him my little townhouse is a memory I will cherish forever.
To me, to my remembrance, he was the absolute perfect grandfather. He was so kind, so active, so warm, so willing to truly appreciate people for the souls they were.
He seemed to take on the form of an ideal human being during his last months of Earth, the next generation of mindkind C.S. Lewis mentions, the kind I strive to be.
Nothing will ever replace him. But his legacy, I strive to be. He was a man of God, firm in his faith, but loving to all. He loved people because they were people. I am struck by the different types of people who had a tremendous respect for my grandfather.
Romanticising people into a dream world of memories and childhood longing–of family loyalty, of belonging and memories–tied in with the stinging, sudden lose of structure and people and things never being the same way again, is strange.
Sad and beautiful and miserable and memorable. Grieving the loss of one who will forever live in mine and others’ mindspace and the wilds of northern Michigan.
I stood in Charlevoix, looking at my grandma, wanting to disintegrate into the air. I looked at my dad, my uncles, my aunts, my brother, my mom and I break into a million pieces. The feeling of loss hits you when you least expect it, in a place missing a spirit that use to be.
Goodbye Grandpa Batdorff.