My grandpa died on Friday night. And even though it was expected and hoped for (he was 90 and sick) it has still been sad times around these parts. Katie and I got the news on Saturday morning as we were pulling into the church parking lot for a service activity. And then we pulled right back out because we are not quite the stiff-upper-lip types. We are more of the intermittently-weep-throughout-the-day-while-consoling-ourselves-with-leftover-Easter-candy-and-viewings-of-Anne of Green Gables-but-skipping-the-part-where-Matthew-dies-because-who-can-handle-that-even-when-you're-not-emotionally-vulnerable types. But we turned it around today at church, even when faced with kind friends and sweet hugs and orchids left on our doorstep. Nothing breaks me down faster than kindness. I lose it when someone gives me a gentle pat on the shoulder and asks how I'm doing. "Fine (weep, weep)." But I only crumpled once! After that I could talk about it like a champ. Sunday miracle!
So I'm sad because I'll miss him, but more than anything I'm grateful for the knowledge of where he is and I'm grateful to have known him and to have him be such an enormous presence in my life. He was kind and funny and silly and gentle. He was an amazing example of hard work and faithfulness. He loved to tell jokes (What do you call a row of rabbits walking backwards? A receding hare line.) He loved to tell stories - about growing up in Watts (for real, yo!) and his time in the military during the war and dating my grandma and all those crazy jobs he had. Fun Fact: In his later years he was an exterminator so every time I'm in a place that has been sprayed for ants, where other people smell noxious fumes, I only smell Grandpa Knecht.
Once long ago he pulled me into his lap and we watched an episode of MASH together. At the time I felt like I was too old to be cuddling with my grandpa but after a short while I was nestled into his shoulder and he said, "I'm glad you still fit here." And even long after I didn't fit there, any time I would sit next to him he would reach over and take my hand and he'd look down at our fingers and say, "That looks pretty good, doesn't it." And then he'd tell me that I had something on my shirt and then giggle like a kid because he made me look. That, in a nutshell, was my Grandpa. And I'll miss him like crazy.