So, I've been wanting to say something. I've not said anything on social media of any sort. This is something that has been eating at me, but I'm not sure I can even put into words how I'm feeling. I've typed and deleted and typed and deleted this so many times over the past couple of weeks. I'm truly struggling.
CJ, Ben, Andy, Aunt Marci, Grandpa Moose
Courtney, Grandpa Moose, Andy, me
Grandpa Moose and Uncle John
Growing up, we spent almost every weekend visiting my grandparents. During the summer, my parents would go away to a bowling tournament and we'd go stay with our grandparents.
Me, Grandma Pat, Courtney, Grandma Holt
Grandpa Holt and Grandpa Moose
My Grandma Pat (my dad's mom) got really sick the summer before I went into 5th grade. What she had was very similar to Alzheimer's meaning she slowly degenerated physically but mentally... well, she didn't really know who we were anymore. She thought my dad was her brother Sonny often. Still, we were up there almost every weekend, visiting her at the nursing home and eating dinner with Grandpa Moose (my dad's dad).
I have sooooo many memories with my Grandpa. I remember riding 3 hours to the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield with him, my dad, and my uncle and then the 3 hours back and still beating my mom, grandma, and sister home from their in town shopping. I remember the smell of his pipe tobacco, swimming in his pool, the smell of his house, the music box that played the song that most music boxes play, but when you opened it up you could see the thing inside turning and watch the music being made, how he would hand me menus and silver wear from restaurants and say "shove this in your pants" (I was one of those goofy kids with the giant legged pants from Hot Topic) or "put this in your purse," and the LifeSavers mints he would hand out to the nurses at Grandma's nursing home before filling our pockets with them. I truly don't know that he ever raised his voice to me. He bought me my first camera when I graduated from High School. We shared a love for photography and ancestry. He loved BBQ, but not chicken, and milkshakes made from the real ice cream, not soft serve like so many fast food milk shakes are made of now. He taught me how to sketch and draw. While I'm no artist, the kids are thrilled by what little I can do, and I credit it all to Grandpa teaching me how to draw that coffee mug on the kitchen table.
Grandpa Moose sold me my first car when I turned 17 and got my license for $10. Her name was Cha Cha, she was really slow to get going, and I was convinced that rocking back and forth when you first pressed on the gas would help her speed up a little. She was a light blue 1989 Toyota Tercel, and every time you got inside, she smelled like Grandpa and his pipe.
Nine years ago my father passed. The anniversary of his death was actually June 12th. My Grandma died the December after. December 19, 2008 to be exact. After they passed, we continued inviting my Grandpa to everything, birthdays, holidays and just dinner. Often there was a large time gap in when we saw each other which was sad since we lived about 25 minutes apart. I emailed him often as he couldn't hear very well on the phone, especially with my kids being so loud all of the time.
Ben and Grandpa Moose
Grandpa Moose on his birthday
The morning of June 15th, I was sitting at the allergy doctor with Ben. (He was getting an updated allergy test to make sure his peanut allergy hadn't returned. We had a scare or two and wanted to be sure.) I got a phone call from my Aunt Marci. This is the sort of thing I dread. Often during the day, she and I text. I was not in a position to answer and texted her that I was at the doctor with Ben but would call when we left. As I was sitting there, waiting for Ben's scratch test, I began to panic. I'm prone to anxiety anyway, so this sort of thing doesn't help.
When we were done and leaving, I called her from the parking lot. She told me that the night before Grandpa wasn't feeling too well and wasn't making much sense. My Uncle Chris took him to the ER where they thought he'd a stroke. After tests they decided he hadn't had a stroke but had pneumonia and had stage 4 liver, lung and bone cancer. The started him on steroids and antibiotics hoping to help whatever caused the pneumonia but after more tests, they found that there was a tumor blocking the opening of his lung so the antibiotics and steroids would do no good.
Knowing that he wouldn't want all the treatment (not that any would do any good with stage 4 cancer on an 88 year old man) he was moved to hospice the next day, Friday the 16th.
For the next 9 days, I sat at hospice for at least a few hours a day. I never wanted him to feel alone, scared, or sad. The first day was the only day he talked. He was scattered and didn't make a whole lot of sense most of the time. He had a beard, which I'd never seen him with in my entire life. That day, I saw my dad laying in the bed in hospice.
I truly believe he knew he was going to pass soon or that he wouldn't be able to talk to us again because he made sure each of us, Shawn, the kids, and myself, knew that he loved us. Watching him and Rylie blow kisses back and forth was something I won't ever forget.
After that first day, the only communication he had left was hand squeezing, moaning when in pain and pulling your hand to his mouth to tell you he was thirsty and wanted his mouth swabbed.
Some days when I went to visit, there were other family members there as well, so I put on a brave and happy face. Other days, when it was just Grandpa and I, I cried and cried. The drive to and from visiting him was always difficult. Everyday I promised him "I'll be back tomorrow Grandpa."
Some days I took the kids with me, where honestly they were perfect angels. I can't imagine sitting there, so quietly, for so long. I will admit, they got extra screen time with their iPads on those days.
Watching the kids shower him with love and kindness melts my heart, every time I think about it. He was such a loved and adored man.
Monday, June 26th, I was showered and dressed, had my shoes and purse on, keys in hand, and my phone rang. It was my Aunt Marci, telling me that Grandpa had just passed. My heart sank. I didn't want to do anything else. My husband had Ben collect some cookie dough we had stored in the freezer from a school fund raiser, then the kids all went to their rooms, while Shawn and I laid in bed and watch nature documentaries until we fell asleep. That evening, I put on my happy face and we went to dinner with Shawn's family to celebrate his sister, Kelly's birthday.
The turn around for the funeral was fast, but it had already been planned, no autopsy was necessary, and the hospice was right across the street from the cemetery. Wednesday, we all showed up in our nice clothes to his small but beautiful graveside service.
Friday, his obituary came out in the local paper.
Walter B. Kerr Walter B. Kerr, 88, of Topeka, passed away on June 26, 2017 at Midland Hospice House. He was born May 9, 1929 in Topeka, the son of John W. and Pauline (Adair) Kerr. He graduated from Kansas State University and was a US Navy veteran. He has resided in Topeka since 1956 and was an architect for the State of Kansas before he retired in 1997. He was a member of the Moose Lodge and Boy Scouts of America. Walter was married to Patricia M. Christiason on July 29, 1951 in Osage City, Kansas. Survivors include one daughter, Marcia L. Kerr of Bellaire, TX, one son, Christopher C. Kerr of Parkville, MO, seven grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren and one brother, Robert E. Kerr of Osawatomie, KS. Walter was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia M. Kerr, two sons, Patrick Michael Kerr and Kevin Scott Kerr. Memorial contributions may be made to Midland Care Hospice, 200 SW Frazier Circle, Topeka, KS 66606. Dove Cremation & Funeral Service assisted with the private burial.
Grandma Pat and Grandpa Moose
Grandma Pat and Grandpa Moose
Uncle Larry, Aunt Sue, Grandma Pat, and Grandpa Moose
Grandpa Moose and Sydney
Grandpa Moose and Sydney
Grandpa Moose and Sydney
Terry's Grandma, Grandpa Moose and Julie
Me, Grandpa Moose, Mom, and Chris C.
Courtney, Grandpa Moose and Grandma Holt
Grandpa Moose always with a camera in hand.
Shawn, Terry, and Grandpa Moose intently talking, probably about a Kansas State Wildcats game. Grandpa was a big fan of the Wildcats and my husband and I are Jayhawks so there was a definite friendly rivalry there.
It's really hard for me to vocalize exactly how I'm feeling. I'm sad and heartbroken, but thankful for the last few days I got to sit with him. I know he passed the way he'd have wanted to, although maybe he'd have like a little less fuss. I'd like to say I have no regrets but I do feel like I didn't see him enough before he got sick. There is nothing I can do about that now though, so I just need to make sure that my kids continue to live on knowing how wonderful this man we all loved, truly was.