Swanky Lady Living

Retro style for the modern girl!

There Goes My Hero November 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — swankylady @ 10:40 pm

We lost him today, my Grandpa. Words cannot really express what he meant to me or how he touched my life in so many ways. Words cannot do his life justice, for after describing him, one would think him just an ordinary man. One would examine his quiet (yet often very talkative) ways, his gentle spirit, his humble way of living, and wonder what made him so special.

Well, Keith Rakestraw was an extraordinary man. He walked with God daily. He prayed for his loved ones nightly. He served his country in the military and he came home and raised his family. He fought several kinds of cancer in his lifetime and beat them. He never lost his faith, even in his darkest hours. Even when he couldn’t lift his head from the pillow, he told us all how much he loved us and how he was ready to go home.

I will NEVER forget my Grandpa and the time we had together. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to have any children before he passed so that he would have lived to see that prayer answered. (Maybe he can put in a good word for me upstairs).

I will never forget trailing after him in the garden, watching him stick fallen bird feathers in his weather-worn straw hat. He always seemed so happy and at peace when he was outside; I think it was his church. When I was a child, every little thing he showed me was magical- the blue shell of  a robin’s egg cradled in his hand, impossibly tiny strawberries still green on the vine, grumpy little toads that made their home under the cool tent of rhubarb leaves. One summer long ago, he even befriended a squirrel. It became tame enough to accept nuts from his fingers, although it would not go near any other human. Grandpa called him “Rudy”….

Funny the little things you remember…

I could go on all day, but like I said before, words cannot express. It all seems so feeble an attempt and all my words seem to fall flat. Words are never enough. Tonight my family gathered in my mom’s kitchen to have a piece of cake for Amanda’s birthday, which was yesterday. I think it’s the quietest I’ve ever seen my family. One of us would begin to try to put it into words, try to articulate our feelings about Grandpa, and then trail off, the words lodged in our throats. We’d all nod, blinking back tears, to show that we understood. It was like saying without words, “It’s ok. We know what you mean. You don’t have to say anything.”

So I won’t try anymore. There is nothing said in memoriam that will give or take away the value of his existence. The people whose lives he touched have nothing to prove, no one to convince. No, there won’t be a statue constructed for his passing. It won’t be on the news and there won’t be a national holiday to celebrate his birthday. Despite this fact, I have no doubt my Grandpa was any less important or loved. Who can say how many people were changed by having known him. I know I am.

Tonight my Grandma said, almost as if to herself, “I wonder how many times your Grandpa changed my life…”

We all stopped talking and waited for her to say more, to elaborate.

“Maybe someday I’ll have to write them all down.”

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4 Responses to “There Goes My Hero”

  1. Colee Says:

    The best thing we can do is cherish his presence in our hearts and try with all our might to live up to his humility and generosity and carry on the light he brought to the world.

    Things I will remember about your Grandpa: His special kinship with nature, the fact that his hair never lost its color even to his dying day, seeing him come down to the Riverfront in search of the best locally grown melons in the summer, his anticipation at watching the Cardinals compete in the World Series, his kisses goodbye, his voice, his smile, and the fact that he and Peggy made me feel like one of their granddaughters.

  2. swankylady Says:

    aw, Coley you made me cry…not that I haven’t been doing that off and on all day! I can just picture him walking around and looking for melons, he loved his fresh local grown fruit and veggies more than anything. He was actually murmuring something about sweet corn the night before he passed! 🙂 So cute. I hope he gets to garden in heaven. I know he loved you like a grandaughter; he always asked about you and your parents and our grandparents. He was a big sweetie, that’s for sure.

  3. I could not have said it better, like you said, his death is not going to stop the world, but I don’t think any cellebrity was loved and cherished more than your grandpa. I knew that that would be your biggest regret. I know how much you wanted him to see your children, he still will though, it won’t be the same or the way we would like it to be, but I always thought after I saw a movie, that the idea of us is created in heaven first, then we are made, so maybe your grandpa will get to see your children in the creation process even before you.

    I’ll always remember his smile, how he smiled for every single person he met. He was so kind and easy to talk to. I remember how sometimes when you lived in the basement that we’d visit them and your grandpa would talk and talk to us and we kind of had to excuse ourselves several times before we could leave. When I think of Keith I think of an eternal summer because he was always outside if he could make it. I’ll never forget those wonderful summers when we were kids and your grandpa was a big part of why they were wonderful.

    Death always brings about regrets, I know that it is just how it is, but I hope you don’t dwell on those thoughts too much, what could have been, and just enjoy the wonderful aspect of his life and the time you had with him. It is sad and wonderful too seeing, old pictures and knowing your grandparents had a whole life before you. I wish we could know it as well as the life we knew when we existed in it. I love you and if you need me let me know

  4. swankylady Says:

    Thanks, Shanders, I love you, too. Don’t worry…I won’t dwell in regret. I know he wouldn’t want that, and I know someday there will be a wonderful beautiful reunion and we will all be together again. I am glad he is up there with Lucas. 🙂


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