Today is one year since he left us. I want to say left us because he was always walking at least 3 feet if not more ahead. I want to say left because he literally finished Thanksgiving dinner, arrived to his home and passed as if he planned it that way. A beautiful day with his family eating one of his favorite dinners made for a last day that was cherished. He completed his mission for the day, for the year and for his life.
Walter Milton Kisner is my grandfather. This man LIVED his life. To the hilt. Everyday. Full pace. It was tough to keep up with him. His biggest frustration in his last year is that he couldn't get around like he wanted because of his knees. Walter rarely missed out on something that he wanted in life. He went for it.
When we walked anywhere --he always walked ahead. He was on a mission. He had a purpose. We would walk in Wal-Mart some times and the door greeter would be greeted. Hi SAM!!! Like they were best buddies. Sam, the greeter would stare at Pap like he should know him but doesn't but smiles and says Hi back. He always would use people's first names no matter if they were a person he met, the president of my college or a life long friend.
We saw him as a natural leader that stood up for what he believed was right. He didn't take the easy, quiet route in situations. He worked hard and gave to others. Walter Milton's military career was important to him but he saved the details for a quiet place in his mind. You could tell he was drifting off in thought but he would dismiss if you if you directly requested details. He would put his head down and walk away sometimes. He served on a U-Boat in WWII in The Battle of Iwo Jima. The best thing this country did was create the Memorial in Washington DC. The Memorial finally honored him and that is when he finally started being super proud of his service in the US Navy.
He loved America and he and Gram toured the USA. Pap visited all 50 states. He had a disdain for politics and if you wanted him wound up just mention the President. Tirade!! He worked Kisner's Cider Press for years. He believed in community. He served for years as a member of the Grange. He also volunteered for hours in the warehouse in Uninotown, PA. He attended his church faithfully and prayed for all of us. When he did stop for a break now and again, he called it "taking 15." This meant he was actually going to stop for 15 minutes and then boom -he would be back up and into something again.
He and I had a special relationship from the get go. He called me "little one." I was never exactly sure the reason. I supposed that it was in reference to my grandmother because I have a lot of her features and was the "little" version of her but I never straightened that out or questioned why. :)
We always had some inside joke going. He was constantly teasing me about something. I was due to have my baby on May 8 but He kept teasing me about holding out another month to have Bryan my son on his birthday. He wasn't afraid to try new things. I remember when he got a DVD player and he asked me how to use it. It took me awhile to convince him he no longer had to rewind rental DVDs like video tapes.
One accolade many might not be aware of but he was the Fayette county fairs sexiest senior legs two years running.
He enjoyed just sitting on the porch. When I was little we watched hours of Price is Right and Road Runner. We would set up tray tables in the living room and he taught me how to eat sardines with saltines and mustard.
Every year no matter where I was I would call pap right at New Years. Even Jan 2012. It was our tradition. We put a penny in our pockets, ate potatoes (Irish) and Kolbosi and Sauerkraut (German) every New Years.
My grandfather never underestimated me. In fact, I honestly believe he pushed me to do more. I could call and say Grandfather I'm headed to the moon and he would say "GO FOR IT HONEY." He called me Little One but he never made me feel little. He let me work in the Cider Press growing up and taught us the value of money. One summer, he and I put the roof on our house. I learned how to shingle. He didn't care that I was young or a girl. He gave me a hammer and showed me how to lay the shingles and how to hit the nails correctly.
When I did pursue something, he supported me through it. He would ask questions on how things were going and when I did make an achievement, both he and Gram were there to support me. They were there for EVERY graduation!! They visited horse shows, recitals, and a buckwheat pancake dinner because I was serving to name a few. You name it and he was there to support you. He often told me he was proud of me.
He was very direct about what he was feeling. He didn't mince words. You knew when he had something on his mind. He would take you aside and say honey help me understand what is happening. He approached you from a place of love and respect even as he told you he thought you may be dead wrong. If you made a mistake, he would say that's alright. Let's get going and he'd be ahead 3 feet trucking onto the next project. He never stopped moving. He always pushed me to be healthy. To eat better and to take care of my body. He and Gram walked every day that they could. They had bikes for a long time and would motor around Daytona.
He was married to Gram for 67 years. They were partners in every sense of the word. They had a beautiful routine/rhythm to their lives. You could guess where they would be and even what they would be eating!! They really enjoyed every member of their family. There was one point they lived with me for awhile. It was wonderful. I miss being able to chat with them each week.
I wasn't going to bring the camera to Thanksgiving dinner last year but I am so glad that I did bring it. Who knew it would be the last moments? This photo below really gives me peace about him leaving. The looks between my son and my grandfather as if they know something we don't in a way. I'm so happy that Bryan will have a photo with his Great-Grand Father. I'm even more grateful for all of his influence and love I got to experience as his grand-daughter. His very last words to me were that I should take good care of Bryan. His voice still echoes in my ear.
I"m sharing this here because it's part of my fabulous make up as a person. I'm sharing because I want you to take Holiday photos, just because photos and I don't want you to not be in the photos so that later on your family can have the wonderful memories and recall your legacy. My grandfather's legacy is that he was doing great but he was more worried about everyone else trying to keep up with him. Believe me, Pap, we still are trying to keep up! :)