Monday, May 19, 2008

silly "Silly Grandpa"

Just today my "Silly Grandpa" passed away peacefully & joined his wonderful wife after a 4 year separation. This is a picture of my handsome Dadders (Terry) & Silly Grandpa in the days before I knew either of them. Ray McKenna was my grandma's 4th husband, but he is the only one I've ever known as grandpa and is the one sealed to our family.

This is the "Silly Grandpa" that I remember, always surrounded by grand kids. This was such a special Christmas that I will never forget, to be with my favorite cousins & grandparents. The McKenna's became so special to me at an early age. I remember writing my grandparents a "thank you" note and having them respond with the sweetest letter. Grandma officially became my pen pal from that time on until after my mission. I have saved & treasure every letter. Pictured: (back) Maren, Jared, Allison, Jennifer, Kelly, (front) Tricia, Deanna, Sunny & Joey. Sean & Leslie pictured on Silly Santa's lap.

Silly Grandpa always had time for us and that is why he got the name "silly" - we started calling him that early on and he would always chase us or tickle us to tease us back. One of the greatest gifts "Silly Grandpa" & Grandma McKenna gave to my family is the love of pinochle. It's a card game that we have carried on and play any chance we can get 4 of us together. It has become such an integral part of our lives that anyone wanting to become a permanent member of The Byrnes family has had to learn this game to be able to "hold their own" - we often joke that "... would not be allowed if we were playing with Grandma & Grandpa." Often my Dad will reflect back to the "double family" Grandma & Molly got back in 1989 (or whenever it was) or the thousand aces he & Grandpa got in '84. (pictured: Josh, Silly Grandpa & Kelly)

I included this photograph, because Silly Grandpa was an avid photographer and took so many wonderful pictures of his grand kids. He was quite skilled and took pictures for the love of it & mostly of his favorite subjects - his grand kids who always had ready smiles for him. (pictured: Joey, Jake, Kelly & Josh - one of the rare family pictures with Joey in it!)

Silly Grandpa passed on his love of photography to many of his grand kids including Sunny. She shot so many of these fun & crazy pictures last year at the Medicine Hot Springs McKenna Reunion of 2007. How fitting that the last reunion Silly Grandpa got to attend was at one of his & Grandma's favorite places to be in Montana. Grandpa also loved music. I can still hear him singing "Mona Lisa" - so many years have passed and I love that music because of him.

Paige McKenna Buchanan was named after my Grandpa & Grandma McKenna because of the strong bond I always felt for them. She & James have taken to calling my dad their "Silly Grandpa" - I am so happy that the tradition continues on. This picture was taken at the Arizona Heart Hospital when I was fortunate to be close enough to my grandma & grandpa to help out during a stressful time, as my grandma's health began to decline. Many long trips back and forth from Phoenix to Lake Havasu and back to Phoenix gave me some special moments hearing about grandpa's years growing up, adult life, and courting grandma. I think that's when I really began to know this great man.
This is where my grandparents spent the last few years of their lives together in beautiful Lake Havasu, Arizona. Isn't it obvious why I love Arizona - this desert that I live in is breath taking and we are blessed to see masterpieces in the setting sky every night. This specific picture is another one of Silly Grandpa's loves that he passed on. My dad used to come to Arizona every February to golf with his dad. The love of golf has been passed on to many of his grandchildren and precious hours can be remembered hitting "the links" with Silly Grandpa.

I was unable to be at my grandma's funeral in Spokane, Washington. She passed just a couple days after I had James. I mourned her loss for a long time and when this picture was taken I knew it wouldn't be long until my sweet grandparents would be reunited. At last that day has come. It is a bittersweet day. We have lost an amazing man - but as my dad would say, "we gained another guardian angel, which we probably need more" - I love you Silly Grandpa and will miss you.
(This poem was written by my darling niece, Madison McCurdy age 11)
I know what it's like to loose someone.
I know what it's like to be afraid.
I know what it's like to have tears running down your face.
I know how hard it is to except the truth.
Well, do you want to know what I do?
I take the names of the ones I love, and after they left, I planted them in the perfect spot.
And I promised always to sing their song so that they can live on through me.
Because even though I can't have them, this is their spot.
And someday, my name will be among them.
And it will be proud.
And I want you to know that if you go first, your name will join theirs' in the perfect spot, and it will never leave. Because, I will not allow you to leave me
- m.m.


The AZ McMillans said...

What a beautiful tribute to your grandfather, Maren. It is obvious you loved your grandpa very much and have wonderful memories of him. It is always hard losing someone you love, no matter what the circumstances are. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Maren, thank you so much for this thoughtful tribute to grandpa McKenna. I was just thinking the other day about all the times we had spent at their home and how i loved them both so much. I loved my mom but felt so close to grandma that she could have been my mother as well. I'm sure you understand completely how I feel since you have such a great relationship with Annette. Treasure that. I always remember grandma making such wonderful meals, she was such a great cook, and then our sweet grandpa cleaning up after the meal was over and always doing the dishes for her. He loved her and I know that he missed her tremendously after she was gone. He loved us all so much and that was his favorite past time. He was always such a gentle and loving man. I will miss him. Love MOM

Cody said...

Me too. Me too.

The man closest to perfection that I have ever personally known.

Rebecca said...

Maren - so sorry for your loss. My grandfather died in February, so I can relate. Love and hugs to you xx