Through the grace of God and His provision I was afforded the blessing to come home, via Ken Deyoung and a private jet, to America.
While here we've had much needed time to attend to marriage, to family, to handle the hurdles of my son's passport renewal (via a drive to Minneapolis), and to pay respects to the wife of a man I respected very much.
For all who don't know, Kari and the kids had gone back to America a few weeks ago to spend time with family. Her grandfather Arnie was in hospice. It took them two days to get there, and he passed away 1 hour before they arrived. At his funeral they spent time with family, remembering one of the sweetest and most tender men I've ever had the pleasure to know. Even with his hearing aid battery dying and squealing away in his ear, he'd still jump up from his chair the moment anyone walked in the door. His handshake was always firm, his booming voice and his smile were genuine and unmasked, and every hug was absolutely from the heart. Arnie had an uncanny way of making anyone, even a hillbilly from Wyoming, feel like they were a part of the family. I only had the honor to know him for 19 of his 85 years, yet I cannot recall one solitary second that I did not feel love from that man. He served his country. He served his family for three generations, and he will be sorely missed. Most of us would do well to measure up to half the man he was.
In my short time back I've already seen what Arnie left behind. A loving wife, mother and grandmother, strong as they come, and a family that's brimming over with all the spice to make an Italian proud. His sweet spirit still rests on those he touched, his strength lives on in his girls and his gentleness lives on through his son, and everyone that knew him holds an endearing memory of a man who cared more for others than he did himself. I missed him on my return. Missed his presence around the table while we chatted, and missed his pat on the back to give me that little bit of extra steam to carry on.
Arnie left behind his blessings on us all. I'm glad I knew him, and the honor to call him Grandpa is mine.