Excerpt for Missing Grandpa by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Missing Grandpa


Rita Hestand

copyright © 2018 Rita Hestand

ISBN # 978-1370120680

This story Missing Grandpa is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebooks may not be resold or given away to other people. Please purchase an additional copy for each person you share with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it. or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

A Note from the Author

This short story is meant to help parents and children understand and accept death as part of the life cycle. It is not meant to depress, but uplift all who read it. We must

Always be truthful with our children and talk to them about life and death too. It is an easier transition if you and your parents can talk to your children about the cycles of life. I hope you can get something from it, as I have always tried to be honest and open with my grandchildren. I think it helps. Sometimes it brings us closer to the living!

Missing Grandpa

Not so many years ago, my father died. I'll never forget that day. It was raining, and cold outside, it was early January, not the kind of day you want to get outside and do anything. I glanced over at my son, who had a toy soldier in his hands and his eyes stared out at the nothingness that rain seems to bring. I cleared my throat as I stood there.

When I hung up the phone, my son, Kevin turned and looked at me.

"What happened to Grandpa?" Kevin wanted to know. I should have known I couldn't keep this secret. His expression was quite serious for a boy of nine.

I'd been on the phone most of the morning and Kevin heard some of the conversations. There wasn't much I could do about that, I had to let my sister and brother know what was happening, because they lived out of state.

Naturally Kevin was quite concerned when he heard his grandpa had an accident. He was very close to his grandfather and I was sure he wouldn't understand it. Still, he had to know, too. Children are smart, like that. He had to know, there was no getting around that.

But before I could answer, the phone rang, and it was the doctor. It was a short conversation and I sighed heavily as I tried to control my own emotions, as my son was still in the room with me.

Can a kid of nine understand death? I wondered. I knew it was something I couldn't hide from him though, they were simply too close. I had to find a way to tell him.

I knew I had to be strong for my family, but I was having a bit of trouble accepting what had happened, it was just so sudden.

I walked over to the window, stared out and gathered my thoughts together before I spoke.

When I finally had it altogether, I stared at Kevin, as he had turned back to playing with his toy dump truck and a pile of green soldiers on the floor. He was going through an enactment of war and it was kind of fun to watch him. It took my mind off what I was about to say. Unlike a lot of kids these days, Kevin preferred to use his imagination playing with toy soldiers instead of his game machines. I certainly was glad of that and thinking about it, I realized it was my dad that had encouraged Kevin to use his imagination. It would seem older generations are better at it than anyone, but I was glad dad had taught him how to make believe. I appreciated so many things that dad had taught him in the time they were together, and just now, I realized exactly how much he had taught him.

Kevin wasn't the kind of kid that I had to worry about getting lost in a gaming system.

He made an explosive sound and the dump truck flew in the air, the troops had successfully blown it up. I smiled sadly, reminding me of my own childhood for a second.

"Well son, grandpa had an accident." Trying not to let my voice give away my emotions, I knew my voice didn't sound normal at the time though by the way Kevin looked at me.

"What happened?" Kevin stopped playing and looked at me with concern.

"He was trying to take his Christmas lights down on the top of the house and fell."

"He fell off the house?" Kevin's brown eyes widened. "Did he get hurt?" Kevin asked innocently, his expression was laced with concern now.

Kevin could obviously tell by my voice, that I was upset on the phone. Because in truth, my eyes had to be red-rimmed and my voice was strained. I wasn't dealing with his death well myself, how could I expect Kevin to be any different?

"Is he alright?" Kevin came closer.

There was as stillness in the room, I noticed. The sweet scent of Christmas was gone from the house now, and it left a musty smell because the newspaper had gotten all wet when he brought it in off the porch. All the noises from the traffic outside seemed to stop. I heard the ticking of the clock on the wall, and it seemed so long before I said anything. I bowed my head, looked away then answered. "No son, that was the doctor, your…. grandpa passed away."

Kevin's mouth hung open a minute, time seemed to stop at that moment, as I waited for my son to react to the news.

"W-what does that mean?" My son asked, his eyes still round with questions.

"It means your grandpa went to heaven a few minutes ago." I ran a hand over my face, trying to control my own runaway emotions. Just saying it aloud made the reality home in on me. A lump built in my throat and I wasn't sure what to say or do next.

"Heaven?" Kevin repeated his eyes bugging out now. I'm sure at that moment, he remembered his grandpa telling him about heaven and that he'd be going there someday. But he had promised him it would be a long time from now.

"Yes son, your grandpa is gone." I told him and Kevin stood up and came closer.

I picked him up like I used to do when he was smaller. I sat him on my knee and then I did something I hadn't done in a while, I hugged him and kissed his head. "I'm sorry Kevin, but you see…grandpa died this morning."

Kevin shook his head and his throat seemed to have a lump in it too. "But grandpa said he wouldn't be going there for a long time…." Kevin objected to the news. "He promised me."

"Well son, he didn't know…None of us know…" I told him.

"Know what?"

"Know when we are going...to die." I finished. I took his hand in mine and closed it around his.

"But he said we'd have plenty of time to play in the park together and go fishing and stuff. He said so." Kevin told me his voice going up an octave.

"Kevin, he said that because he wanted to be with you for a long time. He had no idea he'd fall off the house and …"

I was sure that Kevin remembered what it was like when his dog Snickers died, his dog never came back, and Kevin had missed him terribly.

"Where is he, I want to see him…" Kevin demanded. "I have to see grandpa."

I reached for him as he tried to scramble out of my lap, pulling him against me. "Son, that's impossible. But you will see him one last time. I promise you that." I told him.

"He's dead? He died? From falling off the house?" Kevin looked as though he didn't believe me for a minute. I'd felt that same way when the doctor told me on the phone.

Then I did something else, I rarely do, I cried like a baby, for my father. Right there in front of Kevin. I didn't mean to cry in front of Kevin like that, but I realized, I hadn't accepted it either.

Kevin became very still. He'd didn't understand. But, instead of moving away, Kevin tried to console me by hugging me tight. I was barely coming out from under the shock myself, and Kevin wanted to make me feel better. He patted me on the shoulder. Kevin saw a tear fall, he wasn't sure why he was crying but the fact that his grandpa left so soon, made him cry too. There was some satisfaction in both of us crying over grandpa. I knew my son loved my father as much as I did.

Then he did the most remarkable thing, Kevin talked to me about his grandpa. Telling me about all the wonderful silly things they said and did together. About heaven and that grandpa would be going there when God called him. "He told me heaven was the best place in the world and that everyone wanted to go there someday. He'd told me about gold streets and rainbows and angels singing. I thought it might be a real nice place to go."

He knew all about God and Jesus because his grandpa had taken him to church so much. And I had sat and talked to him about God and who he was, and that he had created all things. Kevin's mother told him bible stories before he went to sleep at night. So, Kevin was very familiar with God and Jesus, comfortable even. But until that day I never knew how much comfort it brought.

As I reached for my handkerchief Kevin stared at me.

"I'm sorry son. I know you are right. Grandpa went to a much better place. But we'll surely miss him."

Kevin nodded. "Don't be sad. Grandpa didn't like it when we were sad. He told me so."

I stared at him. "What else did grandpa tell you?"

Strangely sitting there listening to Kevin somehow made me stronger for the moment.

Then Kevin curled his arm around my shoulder, as though he were comforting me.

"Sure dad, you see, I asked grandpa about heaven and he told me. So, I guess he's in a better place. He told me, no matter what, he'd always be with me, dad. He said he'd be watching for me at the park. He told me not to worry about him leaving me and you. He said he'd be very happy and he'd be around to see that we were alright…"

"What else did he tell you?" I felt better the more Kevin talked to me about it. How could my son make me suddenly feel better? Shouldn't it have been the other way around. Then I realized, that threw a child's eyes, it was a simple thing to understand. So many think children can't understand things, but they have a wealth of understanding that sometimes surpasses ours.

Kevin thought about all his grandpa had told him and then he looked at me. "He said something funny."

"Oh, what was that?" I asked, knowing my son and I were sharing some precious moments together.

"He said he'd get a new body, and it would be a good one with no aches and pains." Kevin told me. I had to laugh at that. "I didn't know what he was talking about, a new body."

I nodded, and a slow smile came, as though what my son said made a lot of sense. "It's true. You see, when you die, God gives you a brand-new body, a much better one than you have. And you will have no aches and pains. You'll feel good all the time and young too."

Kevin thought about that for a minute. "You mean grandpa wouldn't have to take those shots every day."

"That's right son. He won't have any more pain. And no more shots."

"Gosh, I want to go to heaven." Kevin told me.

I grabbed him and hugged him, "No, not yet son. Not yet. You know Kevin, you've made me feel a lot better now. I was thinking about how much I'd miss him, and you reminding me of all of this, makes it somehow easier. When you talk about grandpa I can see it in my head."

Kevin reached up and kissed my cheek. "I'll miss him too, dad."

"I know you will son. You were very close to grandpa, weren't you?"

"Yes sir."

I got up from the couch and went into the kitchen and talked with his mother a while. Then I left to tend to grandpa and his business. Somehow, I felt stronger after talking with my son. It would seem, grandpa had a way of making us both feel better about this time in our lives.

His mother told me later that after I left Kevin went into the kitchen and stared at her long and hard. He loved her long blond hair and her light gray-green eyes and told her how pretty she was. He thought she was the prettiest lady he knew. He had hair like me, but his eyes were almost the same color as his mother's.

"Where'd dad go?" He had asked.

"He has to make arrangements for grandpa's funeral."

Keven stared, "What's a funeral? I mean, I know sort of, but not exactly."

"Well," His mother looked distressed for a moment, then she smiled. "It's a place you go, to say goodbye to someone who dies."

"Oh! Will I get to say goodbye to grandpa?" He asked her.

She took his hand and they went back into the living room. She sat down and pulled him up in her lap. "Yes darling, if you want to, you can."

"I want to. I want him to know how much I'll miss him."

She nodded and hugged him. "I guess you are gonna miss grandpa a lot, aren't you?"

"Yeah," Kevin hung his head. "And Peanut will miss him too. I guess I'll have to take Peanut to the park now, for grandpa. He's an awfully good dog. Can we take care of Peanut from now on?"

"Well, I guess we can. Like you say, he's a very good dog. I'm sure you'll miss grandpa, but you'll just have to think about all the good times you've had with him. And I'm sure Peanut will love going to the park with you. Maybe daddy can take you to the park too."

"We had a lot of fun at the park. I'd like to go with dad too though."

She smiled and kissed his head. "Yes, you went to the park every Saturday didn't you."

"Yep, me and grandpa, and Peanut."

"Do you remember all the fun you had with him?"

"Sure, we flew kites, we took Peanut and grandpa always took his ball for him to go fetch. We watched people. But what I'll remember most is our long talks about things together. It's funny, but grandpa would try to answer any question I asked him. Even when he didn't know the answer. When I didn't understand something, he'd talk to me about it. And I would understand it better then."

"What did you talk about?"

"Grandpa talked to me about going to school. Before I went to first grade, I was scared, he told me not to be scared that I needed to listen to the teacher and make lots of friends. He said they would all be new at school too, and probably be just as scared. He was right, most of them were. And once a kid stole my lunch, and grandpa told me not to get mad, maybe the kid didn't have anything to eat, or maybe he didn't know any better than to take it. He said at my age I had a lot to learn. And we watched people a lot. It was fun, a lot of the time we'd try to guess what they were thinking when they passed us."

"Oh, and why did you do that."

"Grandpa said you could learn a lot by watching people in the park. We sort of made a game of it. Grandpa made everything fun." Kevin sighed heavily. He laid his head on his mother's shoulder and he stayed there a long while. He knew she was sad too. But again, being together helped them both.

"Are you going to be alright?" His mother asked after a while.

"Yeah, grandpa taught me how to be alright."

"He did?"

Kevin looked at his mother. "He said heaven was a wonderful place and he couldn’t wait to get there. And he told me not to be sad. He said he lived a long and good life and whenever God was ready, he was ready."

"He told you that?" His mother was shocked.

"Funny, he said it several times this past Saturday, like he knew something I didn't." Kevin frowned.

That day, Kevin played most of the day with his toys. When I came home, Kevin was staring out the window at the rain, again. I could tell his thoughts were on grandpa and I left him alone for a bit. I figured he had to have some time to sort things out too.

Two days later, we went to the funeral. Everyone was wearing black it seemed. Kevin wore his only suit that he wore every Sunday. There weren't many children there, but there were a lot of people. His aunt and uncle came, and people his grandpa knew.

I explained that when the preacher was finished we could all walk up and see grandpa one last time.

Kevin waited anxiously to go up and see his grandpa. When we got to the casket, he stared for a long time, as I stood beside him, with my hands on his shoulders. I wasn't sure how Kevin would react. It was after all his first funeral, he didn't get to see grandma when she died, he was too young, but I knew I had to give him a chance to say goodbye. He was old enough to understand things now, and I wanted him to be able to cope with death, as well as life. Some people want to hide death from children these days, but as grandpa told us all, death is merely part of life.

"Is he asleep?"

I frowned, "Yeah, I guess you could say that."

Then a smile broke over Kevin's face, "Thanks for all the good times, grandpa. I'll miss you, and I'll take Peanut to the park too. Don't you worry. I promise. I love you and I'll see you someday in heaven."

My wife and I looked at each other, then smiled. Satisfied with his goodbye, Kevin moved away so we could say our goodbyes. I stood there, trying not to cry, but feeling a sudden gladness in my heart, all because my father had paved the way for me with Kevin. Up until my father's death, I hadn't realized the wonderful bond I could have with my son. I'd been too busy working hard to earn a living for us all. But I suddenly realized that being with my wife and Kevin were more important and that I wanted to try do so, more often. "We will all miss you, but it was your time to go and join mother. Don't worry about Kevin either. You taught him a lot. I'll take him to the park now. Rest easy Dad. And we'll take good care of Peanut, dad."

Kevin went to sit down and wait for us.

Weeks passed, and Kevin went to the park with me and Peanut now. Our first trip without his grandpa was strange to both of us. It felt kind of weird. Kevin saw the empty bench and tears clouded his eyes. He swatted the tears away and sat down. He kept looking over to see if his grandpa was there, but he wasn't. It made him very sad that his grandpa couldn’t come to the park with him anymore, but he didn't say so. Instead, he scooted closer to me.

For three Saturday's he was sad. He liked me being with him, but we both felt the same and it was hard to have a good time. But we kept coming, as though each trip was a little easier.

On the fourth Saturday, Kevin had made up his mind it was time to be happy. "Can we play ball or something?"

"Sure. I brought one for Peanut." I said looking at Kevin. I tossed the ball for Peanut and the dog ran and barked and brought the ball back. Peanut was a Bassett and half the time he ran, he'd step on his ears, and it made us both laugh to watch him. Peanut had been like we were, not doing anything, just sitting. He'd lay his head where Grandpa used to sit and sometimes he'd whine.

Kevin remembered his grandpa scratched behind Peanuts ears so he reached and scratched them for him. Peanut licked his fingers and stared up into his eyes at him.

That's when I finally stood up and told Kevin we could play ball. I had brought a ball for us to play with too, it was a football, Kevin loved football and loved to throw passes.

I realized I hadn't played with Kevin much, I'd been too busy working; it had always been Grandpa playing games with him and stuff. Funny thing was, we both enjoyed it. Before grandpa died, I had worked all the time. Now, I made a point of being home on the weekends, which Kevin liked very much, and my wife seemed to appreciate it too.

Strange how grandpa's dying made it all come right for us somehow. As a family we were happier, and we did more things together now. Sometimes it takes losing someone to make you realize what is important.

Kevin soon realized he was having a good time again and smiled. We played that Saturday and many others for a long while. Kevin started talking to me more, and telling me what he and grandpa used to do. Before long we were watching the people go by and smiling at each other. Peanut would run get his ball and pant like crazy when he fetched it for us. We were having fun, and laughing.

A couple of times Kevin saw me tear up and he wanted to make me feel better, so when we got ready to leave, he turned and looked at the bench. He stared for a long time and then he suddenly smiled, real big.

I noticed, "What is it son?"

"Nothing dad, just letting grandpa know we had a good time at the park today. He's smiling now. We can go home."

"He's smiling, why son, how do you know?" I looked skeptical.

"I saw him dad, just for a minute, I saw him. He was smiling at us and waving." Kevin told me. Then he reached for my hand and hollered at Peanut to hurry and catch up with us.

I wondered about that moment. Had he seen dad? I could never be sure of it. I realized what a special moment that was for Kevin and for me too. My son had taught me how to accept death through my father's teachings.

As time went on Kevin understood and accepted his grandfather's death and so did I, but even after Kevin grew up, he'd go to the park every now and then on Saturday and he'd smile, knowing his grandpa was smiling too.

Because he knew what death was, and that heaven was even a better place than earth, he knew his grandpa was in a good place, and still watching after him, after all those growing up years.

Kevin and Grandpa taught me a lot, and I am ever grateful. Learning to accept death is eye opening, but learning with your son, is a fantastic experience.

The End

Meet the Author Rita Hestand

Rita is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She writes multi-genres of works.

Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-12 show above.)