Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days

My grandfather died a year ago yesterday. One of his favourite songs was “I Am a Happy Wanderer,” so even though you may think it’s a bit hokey, I’m playing it on my blog all day today, and maybe even tomorrow if I feel like it.

I remember it so clearly. I was nannying in Brussels, Belgium. My grandpa’s health had taken a turn for the worse. Back in January, the day before I moved to Belgium, I went to visit him–to say my goodbyes. I remember crying almost uncontrollably; he’d become so feeble, and there was a very real possibility that I’d never see him alive again.

I was just barely adjusting to my life as a nanny in Europe when my sister signed on to an iChat on March 6th of 2007. It was morning in Phoenix, but nighttime in Brussels.

“Grandpa’s doing really bad,” she typed. “Everyone in the family has canceled their spring break plans. Hospice has come in. He’s probably going to die soon. Even Grandma’s not sounding very optimistic.”

It was that last line that made my heart stop–if Grandma had lost hope, the situation was bleak.

“Can you come home,” she asked. “We need you.”

Whether or not my family really needed me remains to be seen. But I knew I would always regret not getting to see him again. I pulled some strings–many amazing strings. I broke the news to my employers: I had to go home, but if they still wanted me, I’d leave my belongings and come back soon. [They still wanted me.] I prayed so fervently to God–if I was meant to get home, to please give me the strength and the means to make it. I got a train ticket from Brussels to Paris–it should have cost $100.00 or so, but I got it for $15.00. I hopped on a standby flight from Paris to Phoenix–it was booked to capacity, and there were many other standbys. Some people got denied, but I was given the last seat on the plane.


After traveling for 24 solid hours, I got to Mesa on March 7th, and Grandpa died the next night. I spent all day (minus four hours) at his house. It was a time of reflection, and a time of unification. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so close to my family–aunts, uncles, everyone–as I did those few days.

My relationship with Poor Kyle was in a strange place–I debated whether I should ask him to come down. The night my grandpa died, Kyle was not with me. His presence–which he volunteered readily and willingly–was sorely missed. I called him sobbing that night [selfish, I know] and he drove 20 hours straight to be with me. It was a turning point in our engagement, which might have never progressed otherwise.

Grandpa’s death also reminded my older sister how short life is. She’d planned on waiting a few more years to have children, but two months later she announced she was pregnant.

Grandpa inspired all of us, however differently we reflect that inspiration. He didn’t care for travel. He didn’t pine after fancy food or shiny cars. He valued hard, hard work and hard, hard workers. He valued his Savior, Jesus Christ. He valued his family–his sweet wife, his children and grand children and the few great-grands. He was mighty in body and spirit, but not known to the world beyond Arizona, Utah and Idaho…not really. He never won a Nobel Prize, a Grammy, or even a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

His legacy is us. I can’t wait to see him again.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
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9 Responses to Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days

  1. Mikelle says:

    Thanks for the beautiful post, Camille. I loved your grandpa like many , many others. We loved grwoing up across the street from them (and the chickens, peacocks, etc.) Thanks for all of the pictures, I loved seeing those!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Millie,

    Why did you have to post this right when you left? Thanks a lot. I’m already emotional and sad because you guys are gone, and now this…

    At any rate, this is a beautiful post. It made me remember everything so vividly. I, too, can’t wait to see Grandpa again. He’s a great man…

  3. Anonymous says:

    camille, some jerks are making really stupid nasty comments about you, some jeff guy, and some anonymous twit. check comments under, “lucky for the world” and “no i’m not stop asking”, from feb.

    you’re grampa is a great man, i’m sure he’s missing you too.

  4. Kathryn says:

    Camille, I know I’m a better person from knowing your grandpa. He was a great home teacher and neighbor.

  5. Kyrie Shumway says:

    Camille, I wish so many things were different in my life at that time. I appreciate you writing this about grandpa. it mae me cry. “I Thank you, and my heart thanks you”
    ~Kyrie

  6. Raygon says:

    Camille, no wonder you are such a great person…you come from good people. This was a sweet post, you lucky to have such great people to look up to in your life.

  7. The Verenski's says:

    Camille
    This is the best post yet!!! I think i cried through the whole thing. Thanks for reminding me of how wonderful granpa was. I sure do miss him. I can’t wait to see him either. I know that he is holding my little baby right now and telling him all the cool things here on earth. Camille i love you and miss you!!!
    Your favorite cousin

  8. Anonymous says:

    a very touching post camille, i cried a little too. and kyle driving so far for you, wow. what’s that “i drove all night” song? i think cyndi lauper did it first, maybe, but i’m an old geezer.
    i didn’t know my grampas really,one died long before i was born, the other was rather shy and lived far away. i do miss my dad terribly though, he passed 3 years ago. your gentle words helps me cry a bit more for him, remembering everything we loved about him.good tears of course, healing tears. thanks abound.

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