I awoke this morning with the most wonderful feeling. As I wrote down today’s date in my journal, I KNEW why today felt so good. . .
This is my AMAZING Grandfather, Wayne Wardle. He was born 100 years ago today!
100 years old!
Oh how I wish I could have seen him to live 100 years old. He actually passed away when I was 15 and he was only 74. That was so young to me. I felt he had at least another 20 years left in him. He was a central part of my growing up years. I can still remember him holding my hand while we would go on walks around his neighborhood. He would wave at neighbors but rarely stop to visit, for our time together seemed most precious to him.
I even remember the time he took me for a walk to the nearby Holladay Cemetery. He let me take my time, looking at the various headstones and doing the math to see how old they were when they passed away. I was so young. I honestly can’t imagine many children doing such a thing but for me it was a passion to do all I could, even if it was just the math, to know a bit more about the people that once were alive on this earth with us.
My grandfather even allowed me to grieve for a moment when I found a precious headstone of a baby who had passed away. He let me ponder what that meant and even let me express my heartfelt sympathy and pain for the parents of the baby. Did my grandfather know that one day I would have one of those headstones and graves for my own little one?
And then, before leaving the cemetery, my grandfather took me by my maternal great-grandfather’s grave. Even at that young age I KNEW that what he was doing was not “normal” but an act of grace and respect for me and my respect for the dead. I could feel he wanted me to connect with “my family.” What an honorable man he was towards me. What tenderness and great care he took of my heart. Oh how lovely he is to me!
But MY FAVORITE family memory to share was when he would come to our home and take my siblings and I to get a “little something” from the 7-11 convenience store, after reviewing our report cards. It wasn’t much but it felt like a piece of Disneyland to us. He would tell us to get a Slurpee and a treat, whatever we thought we could handle. Of course my siblings would push him for more but I couldn’t, I had too much respect for him. I hope he felt that.
So, in honor of this LOVELY and QUITE GOOD-LOOKING man, I surprised my kids with a walk to our “7-11” (a little mom and pop store, inside a row of tightly grouped houses, which we fondly call “The Two Brothers”) for a drink and a treat. The kids were in shock when I announced the surprise outing and it FELT GREAT! Not because I was doing something special for them, it was from their great-grandfather, in honor of his birthday.
I regret not taking photos of the loot, or the walk to the store, forgive me myself! I’ll try harder next time. But I did want to share how my own children could see themselves in their own Great-Grandfather.
El Gringo said he felt he looked so much like him, the most out of the children. That made me happy because one of the things I LOVE MOST about El Gringo right now is his wavy, red hair. It DOES remind me of my Grandfather’s AMAZING white, wavy hair. I also see many distinct shapes in El Gringo’s face that are similar to my grandfather’s face. At least they are both handsome men!
But this little boy is Wayne Wardle’s name sake. We purposely gave Joy Boy part of his name because we wanted him to be inspired to possess that same loving, caring tenderness that his Great-Grandfather displayed with Joy Boy’s mother while she was growing up. And I feel that Joy Boy does. Plus, the color of hair is almost spot on.
I miss you Grandpa. I wish I had tons of photos to share of you and me together but I don’t. But I do have snapshots and tender feelings of our times together still in my mind and heart. If I could draw or paint them I would. Oh how I love you! Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for loving me for who I am and for who you knew I could become. Thank you for helping me go to college (another story for another day) and THANK YOU for helping me NOT GIVE UP on anything or anyone!
I love you Grandpa – for ALL eternity!
Happy 100th Birthday!