On November 19th, my sweet grandpa passed away.
Three days later, my nephew was born.
My grandpa Gene was kind and caring. He met the world with his heart wide open — as soon as you walked in the door you were family — no one was ever turned away. He and my grandma traveled, almost constantly. Visiting family and making new friends, who of course, they would start visiting during the next year’s round of trips,
When she was two, my cousin Morgan called my grandparents the “Rolling Balls,” because she couldn’t pronounce Roybal.
He loved nothing more than having everyone together eating, laughing and singing. It didn’t matter how long you were visiting two days or two weeks. When it was time for you to leave, he was always sad to see you go, “You have to leave so soon?” he’d say, “Stay! Stay! I’ll take you to the wineries, I’ll take you to San Francisco.” Nothing was more important than being together.
He also had a mischievous streak. He loved to laugh and play good-natured pranks on all of us, but of course, mostly on my grandma, especially if he could get us grandkids involved in the trouble. One time he, my little brother and our cousin bought a small plastic snake and hid it in my grandma’s bed. That night when they were pulling the covers down, I heard my grandma scream. My brother and cousin ran into the living room, thrilled that their prank had gone well.
I will miss his booming laugh and the way his face lit up when I walked into the room. He would call out, “WHITTY!!!” It didn’t matter if he hadn’t seen me in months or if it had only been a few days. He had a gift of knowing what was special about every person and letting them know it.
He was my grandma’s best friend and soulmate. Her “honeymoon.” He loved her with every part of himself heart and soul. He was devoted to her and every night would go to bed before and lay down on her side of the bed so that her side would be nice and warm when she came to sleep.
Oh how I miss him. We are all here thinking, “You have to leave so soon? We wish you could stay.”
In sorrow, there is joy.
Baby Grayson has the sweetest face. He is loved more than anything. He has his wonderful big sister, Gabby, to show him the ropes. He has the whole world ahead of him and the best start in life.
He has a beautiful family to gather around him and hold him up, no matter what he does or where he goes. The same family that will gather around my grandpa to sing him up into heaven.
I haven’t met Grayson yet. But, I can’t wait to hold him next month and tell him stories about all the adventures of the Rolling Balls.