Love you more Grandpa Ken

Our dear {great} grandpa Kenneth John VandenHeuvel passed away on Tuesday.

We, the adults are full of mixed emotions. You see, grandpa was one of the most lively 80 year olds I have ever met. Then, he got cancer. Then the cancer left, and then returned again. Grandpa was no longer strong enough to fight and was in pain. He missed his love of his life, Anne, who left him 17 years ago. Grandpa turned 85 on Sunday–the 17 year anniversary of her death.

We know he is happy, pain free, and gets eternity in heaven with Jesus and Anne. We are happy in that fact.

Trying to imagine one Monday dinner with out him, a Tuesday’s with Kenny no longer in our routine, a Christmas without sitting on grandpas lap before Santa’s, he no longer there for judging the Festivus activities is hard.

Nolan doesn’t understand. He was still working on naming members of the family let alone them here and not here. But Nolan and grandpa had a special bond. Nolan was the tie breaker between grandchildren and great grandchildren (17). When Nolan was diagnosed grandpa never thought he was strange, or loud, or a bother. He noticed and pointed out his progress. He smiled and laughed. Nolan LOVED to cuddle grandpa. He doesn’t climb on anyone to cuddle like he did on grandpa. While Nolan struggles with language, grandpa related to when he was learning to speak after his stroke. The words are there but not coming out. The frustration is predicted to be similar and the understanding grandpa then had for Nolan only grew. Grandpa prayed the rosary every day–and one bead of special intention was Nolan. Every day. When grandpa was on his last days, I told Alex I was sad there would be one less person here praying for Nolan every day. Alex replied, but it is one more angel looking over him. A few days later Alex had a dream grandpa told him he’d watch over Nolan.

Stella takes a minute to warm up to grandpa every single time, but once she did they giggles together. Grandpa got a true kick out of her! She was beginning to talk and sing (endlessly) when our Tuesday’s with Kenny began. One time we showed up and we thought he was sleeping (turns out he wasn’t home) but we sang are you sleeping with grandpa Ken added. She got a kick out of it and would sing it for him every time we visited. He’s sing it back in Dutch. Stella saw him use a cane and she needed that cane to walk too (even though the curve was over her head! 😆) Yesterday, I was reading his obituary and she looked over my shoulder and said, “hey! It’s grandpa Ken!” Yes lovely girl, it is. Then getting ready for bed, we just said amen from our prayers and she exclaims, “hi grandpa Ken!” Alex asks, “where is grandpa Ken?” “In the house. The house. This house. Bye grandpa Ken!” I reply with, “Ok Stella, lets sing our bedtime song now, what song?” Ummm ummm are you sleeping! Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, grandpa Ken! Grandpa Ken!”

The bond children have with their grandparents is special, it’s unique and my kids couldn’t have more different relationship with their grandpa Ken but they love him and boy, did he love them.

This was our last Tuesday’s with Kenny. 2 weeks before he passed. Still smiling and holding these babies with love.

We love you more Grandpa Ken. Until it’s our turn to meet you, we will always remember you fondly.

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