Always There for Us...
Contributor: crex Created: 9 months ago Updated: 9 months ago
Marion Lynn Healey is Darin's maternal grandfather and well...he's my Grandpa too. I will never forget meeting him. Darin "prepped" me (not knowing I had a Grandpa just like him) that Grandpa was quiet, yet very firm in opinion, he might not be affectionate, but would do anything for a person.
Well...I learned a lot about my new Grandpa when we got married. I got to see his character in action. He was always...there...I mean just there! He was there to silently comfort when times were tough. I will never forget when we had our first son, Jonathan, who was a preemie. He cried pretty much for a whole year. We didn't sleep well at all. Jonathan's suffered exceptional colic due to his earliness and one night, like we often did...we drove around hoping the car movement would put him to sleep. However, our baby's pain was beyond it. We did not know what to do. Our driving took us from our apartment in Pleasant Grove...around to Lehi and eventually towards Darin's hometown of Alpine.
Darin wished someone could help him give Jonathan a blessing. At 2AM in the morning...we felt sheepish to wake anyone up. As he drove by his parent's quietly dark home and down 200 North...we noticed a light in the distance.
It was Grandma and Grandpa Healey's living room light. The porch light was on, the living room light was on, and we could see a figure sitting in the living room.
We pulled in actually nervous something was wrong with them, but we found out that Grandpa knew someone was coming. He had got dressed and turned on the lights and sat and was waiting (tears).
He and Darin administered to our little baby boy and soon Jonathan was out of pain and fast asleep. We were beyond appreciative and the love and trust we had in Grandpa was immense.
Grandpa was the epitome of humility. He could hardly accept a thank you, much less a compliment. Often...you just gave him a hug with his scratchy face against your own cheek and say simply, "Thank you!"
He was not a Grandpa that threw his arms around you. He was quiet, reserved, but absolutely present in the moment. Every Sunday we would visit at Grandma and Grandpa's home. I enjoyed watching Grandpa.
First, he would smile watching his whole posterity filter in. Then the room would be too full for him. He was not a person to be caged in. He would retreat to his den. Realizing that he was gone from the room...people followed him to his den. Fun conversations were had OR none at all.
Grandpa was the king of the "silent conversation". You could just sit by him and feel totally at peace and like he knew how you were feeling.
When the den was full...Grandpa would take a walk up the lot towards the animal pens (He was a farmer) and the outbuildings.
I remember being very pregnant one year and walking alone with him to check on his expecting sheep. Grandpa said nothing and then came to their pen and saw one particular sheep and said, "She's ready..."
I asked him how he knew. He said, "Well...you just know...You get used to how they behave and then when it changes...well...you just know..."
I guess he often "just knew" how people were doing. One day Darin was having a particularly hard day. His burdens were heavy being a student in a hard educational program, working two jobs, and parenting two children with special medical needs. He drove by Grandma and Grandpa's home.
Grandpa was out on one of his chairs just a little beyond the open carport. Darin said they said "hello" to each other and then spent the next hour just sitting. Darin said they both had a little stick in hand and stirred the dirt around. Darin said he wanted to talk, but realized he didn't need to. He just sat by Grandpa in silence making marks in the dirt over and over and then giving his Grandpa a hug and going on his way.
I remember when he came home he told me that was the best moment he had ever had with his Grandpa. I wanted to hear the whole conversation. Darin said, "We didn't talk...we just sat together...I felt like he just knew..."
My kids loved Grandpa's way of loving them. They didn't get big bear hugs or anything like that. They were noticed. I would love to watch as my kids would approach Grandpa ever so carefully...closer and closer they would inch...because Grandpa had a particularly funny way of reaching out to those boys. He would lightly pinch their earlobes and make this little short "kitch" sound. The boys would laugh with delight as they looked at Grandpa, who was looking the other direction...acting as innocent as could be. The kids would get closer...waiting for this game to continue on and on.
I would laugh inside myself to watch. It was a delight. When they would leave...the boys would throw their arms around Grandpa. They felt so loved.
I often wondered how that was so possible with saying so little. I began to understand that Grandpa was not distracted by anything. He was totally and completely present in his world. He did know when his animal's behavior was changing. He did know how you were feeling just by looking at you. He was intuitive to a level that would you never expect.
One year I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he said, "Oh nothing..." I thought he was being shy to ask, but literally Grandpa needed nothing. He honestly felt he had everything. We noticed that he did crossword puzzles and that he had red licorice candy that he enjoyed, so we took our poor student funds and bought him a bucket of red licorice candy and a big crossword puzzle book. When we gave him our $5 gift he said, "This is a great gift!" He was so easily pleased. He had drawers full of nice shirts, new overalls, etc...but until he used up the ones he was wearing...the new ones remained untouched. He would not waste. He always appreciated what he had. AND I believe beyond any single item he cherished...it was the people in his life that gave him contentment.
He used to park his blue truck up on a spot in Alpine on "The Bench" (his 100 acre farm). He would sit there for hours sometimes and overlook the valley below. I never understood what he was doing in completeness until after he passed away and I took a walk in his tire marks and came to their parked position and stood there and looked. The sky was broad. The mountains to the west had the sun beginning to kiss down upon them. The colors danced upon Indian Paintbrush and scampering squirrels and the occasional deer. The only sound was the rustling of grass. When I realized I had stood there for a half hour...and I was completely at peace...I understood Grandpa.
I understood that his hours of sitting in his truck overlooking that beautiful spot...centered him...focused him. I understood that he was able to serve without any praise because his heart was full...it needed nothing to compel it. He could sit in silence with a person and or just listen because he cared about the person. His "job" as a farmer was caring for God's creatures and his favorite creatures were his family and friends.
One month before he passed away we stopped by. Joshua was nearing his 8th birthday. He was small and shy. Grandpa used to say, "He's like his Grandpa (meaning himself)". Grandpa was snapping deadwood that had fallen from his enormous willow trees. He would do so by bracing the piece of wood with his foot and then snapping it by leverage. Joshua went and picked up green branches, however he could not achieve the same effect. Grandpa would show him how to find the deadwood and he would give it a hearty snap and Joshua would try to imitate it...again on greenwood. All night Joshua was preoccupied with snapping willow branches.
I figured Grandpa would take them out back to the burn pile (how he dealt with trash). However, he didn't. He lovingly set those little green sticks in a pile next to the house as though that 7 year old boy had made a mighty fine wood pile to keep the house warm that winter.
Grandpa never had another winter. When we came to the home after his death...I looked at that wood pile and realized...that greenwood warmed his heart...and that was good enough for this year.
Grandpa, we love you! We miss you SO MUCH! It seems like you don't completely understand a person until you begin to travel the same roads and see some of the same country (figuratively). We have so many times when we wish we could walk with you in the back lot. We have so many times when we wish we could go look at the cows with you. We have so many times when we wish we could sit silently and stir the dirt with a stick with you. We have so many times we wish we could drive and see the light on and know you were there.
I know you are in heaven. I know you keep your porch light on there. I know there are days when we sit seemingly alone and listen to the grass and can only assume you have pulled up a chair beside us.
You were ever present and available in this world...I can only imagine you are ever present and available to us now...watching over all of us in our particular needs. You do not need to do or say a lot to impact a person's life...you simply need to be present. Thank you for always being there for us.