for one year, two months, and 14 days of my adult life, i had a Grandpa. and not just a Grandpa, but an amazing, gracious, loving, warm and wonderful man who embraced me as family from the moment he set eyes on me on April 4, 2011. i suspect he had embraced me as family since June 4 of 1975, but April 4, 2011 is my only real reference point.
the night i met Archie, he was spectacularly excited--especially for a midwestern man of Norweigian descent. he hugged me and asked me questions and told me about his life. he showed me hundreds of photos of the family we suddenly shared. he gazed at me with wonder and joy. he smiled and laughed. he was dazzled. he was grateful and excited that the infant his beautiful daughter had created so many years ago was there, in his home, in his presence as a grown woman with questions and information of her own.
every visit with Archie was a continuation of that night. he lit up, he sparkled every time i entered the room. he embodied a love for me that i can only assume had been privately and preciously nurtured for 36 years. every interaction began with a big smile and the sweetest, most genuine greeting: "helloooooooo, Shelly!!" he never failed to remind me of how important i am and how glad he was that i was back in his life, in his family's life.
last night, as i watched my beautiful and kind and generous Grandpa pass on from this life, i was flooded with joy and gratitude for the time i had with him, pain and loss for the conversations we hadn't yet had, love and contentment for the tiny bit of peace it brought him to know that i was ok.
i loved him. i will always love him. as an adopted person, i have become quite accustomed to noting that family is so much more than blood or genetics. the last 14 months with Grandpa Archie made it ultimately clear to me that this part of my family is blood and genetics AND so much more!
Rest In Peace, my sweet Grandfather.