Leaving March 29 for a 3-month volunteer stay in Sitka, Alaska . . . It’s snowing there now so my packing skills are in high gear. It is my desire to limit myself to one suitcase for 3 months. Can I make that happen? Stay tuned for more news coming next week.
Grant Michael Kleman was born on May 8, 1998. At the time he was born I was just starting my return to college to secure my bachelors degree. I was 48 years old and this boy held my heart like nothing else. I thought the love of my daughters was the maximum amount of love any heart could hold. I was wrong. The birth of this boy doubled the size of my heart and I could not have loved him more. (Later I found that your heart just keeps getting bigger as you add grandchildren. They are all special but I must admit the first one holds a very special place.) His mom sent pictures and kept me updated on his growth while I was in school and we enjoyed many visits together on multiple occasions.
In 2000, I graduated from the university and was fortunate to be able to move to Texas and to live with Jennifer for the next seven years. Grant and I had much to experience together. We had the moment when, while driving, with Grant in his car seat in the back seat, I gave him a peppermint candy and he choked on it. In the middle of traffic I was frantic to get to him. I know I lost 10 years of life in that 5 seconds between choking and spitting out the candy.
There was the time at the park when he fell on the jungle gym and cut the bridge of his nose which ended up as a scar. He always told everyone that Grammy did that to him! Maybe being the first grandchild carries greater risks than I imagined (for both of us!).
In 2002 his brother Reid arrived and he became the big brother. He and Reid were best buds and they loved spending time together. In 2007 the twins arrived and Grant and Reid were both big brothers, and great ones at that.
Grant was ever cautious, never a risk taker. He played soccer as a kid but it was never about the sport and always about talking with the other kids (often while playing).
School was fun for Grant but not his one and only love until he figured out how to have a business of his own and that definitely got his interest. G&R Auto detailing was first with the beginnings in their local neighborhood doing car washes and auto detailing. Grant was about 13 when they began this business. Regular customers kept them busy and the ever pragmatic Grant made sure he saved most of what they earned.
After a couple years of this Grant expanded to landscaping and was able to make enough to pay cash for his truck when he secured his drivers license. Along the way he decided the percentage he was sharing with Reid wasn’t valid and he decided to lower Reid’s cut, upon which Reid quit! They remained close but Reid was no longer a working partner.
Grant went on to create a landscaping business along with his auto detailing. It served him well and he loved time spent working. The harder the work the more he seemed to enjoy it and the satisfaction of completing a job well done. His work ethic was solid.
Grant’s faith was strong. He loved God with all his heart and believed strongly in his words. He kept his bible on the dashboard of his truck always.
After high school graduation he went on to Texas Tech University. It was a difficult transition. I don’t know what happened or changed in his life those final few months. And, for whatever reason, I’m not meant to know. However, I do know this. Grant was a special boy who held a special place in this world. I, and his family, will miss him greatly. We will do our best to focus on the joy of his 18 years with us and smile with our memories. He will be with us for always.
Grant passed away on December 10, 2016. A life lived well but cut way too short. I am blessed and grateful to have this photo of the two of us at his High School Graduation. I love you Grant more than you will ever know. The first grandchild holds a very special place in our hearts and that spot will remain with me forever. I look forward to the day when memories can be shared freely and I thank God every day that my heart is full of gratitude for the 18 years I had with him. See you later buddy!
I am so grateful for all of my grandchildren. Adrianna will graduate from George Mason University in May; Dominic is taking courses at NOVA in Virginia and working at Walmart; Cameron is a junior in high school and loving Robotics; Reid is 9th grade and working on his Eagle Scout; Thomas is 7th grade and proudly maintaining straight A’s in school; Michaela is in her element at 6th grade, loving school and a real social butterfly, and twins, Luke & Jack, who are learning new things every day! They are blessed gifts, each and every one.
Unexpected Benefits from a Tandem Skydiving Gift . . .
For Christmas this past year my son-in-law, Robert, gave me the gift of a tandem skydive. Always the adventurist, I was delighted. Scared, but delighted. It would be a brand new experience with a couple unexpected benefits.
My daughter, Melissa, and I drove out to the jump field. Always the supporter, she got up early to join me and share the experience. It seems no matter what crazy idea or scheme I come up with, she is without fail my biggest cheerleader. In fact, the night before I mentioned she might want to join me if they had an opening and she agreed (however, I could tell she didn’t have the passion in her heart, just the love for me!). I also knew that she would go with me because that’s the kind of daughter she is.
Benefit #1: Having someone who fully supports your adventures, who never encourages you to be cautious (just safe), and readily jumps aboard your moving train is a blessing known by few. I am humbled and grateful that I call her my daughter.
It was a cold morning, with a high in the 30’s and a nice brisk breeze. We were the first to arrive and sure enough they had an opening and could take us both together on the first flight. We signed our waivers (they tell you all the different ways you can die and you tell them you are okay with that and will not hold them responsible!). We met our tandem jump mates. Randy would jump with me, Angelo would jump with Melissa. Randy would train us, which consisted of a 5 minute list of instructions and strapping us into our harnesses. Randy’s passion for what he was doing and his joy in the experience was a reminder of how important it is to celebrate what we love in a way that others can see and feel it. Randy made certain of that and, while we continued forward with a healthy dose of fear, we were excited because he was excited to share this jump with us.
Benefit #2: Doing anything WITH someone who is joyous and passionate is a reminder of the reason we celebrate life together.
Once we jumped from the plane and pulled our parachute, we coasted in the silence overlooking the earth below. Randy continued to openly share his thoughts and feelings about the wonder of being high above the ground, cascading slowly in the silence of the sky, and looking out over the wondrous place we call earth. He laughed with me, he encouraged me to open my eyes wide and take it all in, and he marveled at the beauty of the silence as we moved with the wind high above the ground.
The morning was incredible. In just a very very short time we had completed an awesome adventure together. I repeat, awesome! Thomas, Melissa’s middle son, says that we have started a tradition. From here forward, Melissa is responsible for taking Michael, her daughter, skydiving for the first time, and Michaela will in turn take her daughters for a skydive as well. Nice to know the adventures will continue for generations to come.
Happy adventures one and all.