Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The end of a generation

By K.J. Cardinal

Memorial Day will forever be immortalized in the Cardinal family by the loss of my Grampa, Don Denton.

Our family was saddened on Monday morning with the news that my mother's father lost his life. I have never really been a fan of the cliche "he's in a better place now", but following bout after bout with disease after disease, that saw his physical mobility escape him, perhaps my grandfather really is in a better place now... well, at least that's what I'm telling myself.

My family has dealt with death ever since I was very young. Everything from grandparents to babies, uncles to brothers. You name it, we've seen it. But, it NEVER gets any easier. The biggest lessons I've learned from these losses are to remember the good and keep the memories alive forever.

Needless to say, I have countless great memories of my Grampa that I will cherish forever. When I sit back and think about Gramp, what comes to mind is...

• Bass fishing on Back Lake
• Trick or treating on Country Lane
• Golfing at Steele Hill
• Accidentally closing his fingers in the sliding door of my parent's van (he didn't even flinch)
• Watching him do his wood-working magic
• Seeing him at every important event throughout my life
• Learning how to operate a flatbed scanner from him

I could go on and on. Probably my favorite memory of Grampa came back in the Summer of 2003. While sitting poolside in his wheelchair at Lance and Gail's, I cannonballed into the pool and soaked him head-to-toe.

You may think I'm cruel for doing this, but not Grampa. I will never forget the look on his face when I surfaced from underwater. He had water dripping off his fisherman's hat and was laughing so hard that tears eventually rolled down his cheeks. We were both in our glory.

This story is so telling of Grampa and his great sense of humor. He was always able to laugh at himself like no other and he had one of the most contagious laughs ever heard.

The loss of Grampa has a little extra sting to it because it also marks the end of a generation for my family. Grampa was my sole-surviving grandparent, so it's hard not to reflect on the loss of my Meme and Mema and Papa at this time as well.

I have been blessed like no other with the most amazing family in the world and it all starts with Meme and Grampa and Mema and Papa. They were the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) of my family and I owe them all the gratitude in the world for making my parents into who they are.

So while our family carries heavy hearts with the loss of Grampa and the end of a generation, I vow to keep their memories alive forever and make sure that my children know what special grandparents I was fortunate enough to have.

We'll miss you Gramp.


  1. Very well put... Grampa was a great man that will be loved and remembered forever.
    -Katie Lou

  2. I love you so very much KJ. Thanks for putting into beautiful words what a wonderful man grampa was. He will be missed but NEVER forgotten.
    Love, Mom