August 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye ...

(Baby Jamie meets Grandpa Roy and Granny, June 2010)

Today, my family says goodbye to a great man. A week ago, after a a brave fight from a surgery followed by a stroke, Grandpa Roy passed away, leaving behind his pain and discomfort. I offered to speak at his service, but later was unable to attend. Had I been able to be there, this is what I would've said ...

I am the granddaughter of Roy Perkins ... If not blood, definitely by love.

As a young girl, he was looming; an overwhelming presence to be respected. His routine was as much a comfort to us as it must have been to him. He was never "scary", but commanded respect. He was quiet, deliberate and hardworking ... looking back all of my grandfather's were. Maybe its because all 3 served in the armed forces where they learned discipline and structure. Regardless, it was comforting.

However, to see such a large man melt at the presence of the often indifferent cat, Boomer was amusing to say the least. He loved that cat and the combo of those two was a sight to see. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who wondered if he jumped at the demands of that cat faster than those of Gran. Most of my childhood memories of Gran & Grandpa's house, found that cat lounging nearby ... they were a unique pair. When Boomer was gone the emptiness was evident, much as we feel today with Grandpa's loss.

As a young girl I often played with a silver tea set that sat on the wicker table in the den. For some reason he felt the need to routinely polish it. After those cleanings I was mesmerized by it's shine, imagining myself a fairy princess in a castle full of treasure as I clanked the top of the teapot pouring imaginary tea for royal guests. As a college student, I was still enamored by the shine on that tea set, often sneaking in the dining room to pour imaginary tea once again when I should've been studying calculus or chemistry. I don't know why that little tea set was so important to him, but it held a secret power for me too and became the catalyst for a collection for my collection today as I try to recapture the magic I saw as a child.

I regret that as a child I took him for granted, assuming he'd always be in that old leather recliner when I came to visit. As a college student, our relationship grew stronger as I recognized that he was the first in the family to see me as an adult and not the baby of the clan. He often asked me about my plans for the future and his sincere manner of asking probing questions made me dig deeper to identify what it was I really want. I transformed from a desire to not be seen as the baby in the family, to truly identifying what it was I wanted to do- to be. He had a way of forcing you to stand up for your choices, or crumble under the questioning of your decisions. It made me stronger to look him in they eyes and validate my opinions.

He believed that I could be anything I want and wanted me to believe the same thing ... When he read my articles covering the college ROTC program, he thought I should be a war correspondent, when I fixed the motor of garage door at the house, he thought I should be an engineer, when he saw my photography he bought me the best camera he could find.. . Or at least sent Granny do it, I don't really know if he went out and searched for a camera on his own, but I like to imagine he did. He thought I could do anything, but it wasn't until I walked in with my future husband and introduced to him a Soldier that I saw that I had made the best choice for my future in his eyes. I breathed a sigh of relief when Grandpa offered him a beer & invited him to watch the Astros game - I had chosen well.

He was s strong man, with strong convictions. Politics, Texas sports, and vehicle maintenace were topics that he routinely made sure I was up-to-date on. Even as a little girl, I remember when I'd get the courage to go over and "hover" as he watched a game, he would lecture me on the importance of being independent as a girl. In my early teen years he would insist that I "take care of myself", and not depend on someone to take care of me. He would often give me $5 or $10 cash and insist that I always be prepared in case something happened. "Never depend on someone else to take care of your problem," and "save money so you don't have to ask for a handout" he would say. Each time he gave me the money, I would hide it away, for that unforseen problem. In college, I scrimped and saved, but occasionally had to dip into Grandpa's funds.

I remember Granny would send me checks occasionally and say, "Don't tell Grandpa," but he pulled me aside one day and said he knew and that it was their investment into my future. It was that thought that made me push myself to earn 3 degrees ... they had invested in my future and I wanted to make sure they never regretted it.

He was a man who valued quiet in a family that never shut up. Family gatherings were often a circus, but he stilled tried to watch the Astros game. He valued quiet, but I would see him light up when he swapped "war" stories with George or asked me what hoops military life had us jumping through. Those were the only times that he didn't end a conversation and go back to his paper or sports game. Those conversation ended only when we were interrupted by others.

I think I miss those conversations most of all ...

2 Tea Party Guest:

Sue said...


And your Grandma (and your Grandpa, as he looked down) would have been proud of you still - in your thoughts, your words, and most of all so grateful for the love behind those words.
I am sure he heard your words as you wrote them for us, Michelle.
I am sincerely sorry for your loss, but so touched by all that he gave you - and most of all, by all that you appreciated in his life.
Hugs my friend,

Meari said...

Sending my condolences and a ((hug)) for the loss of your grandpa Roy, Michelle.

It's funny how we think about the impact people have on our core values and the way we live our lives after they're gone. I'm glad you shared a glimpse of somone who sounds like a well grounded man with good values.