My Opa

Mr. Vogel, Levert, William, Bill, Pop, Opa – all the names given to one amazing man. Never in my life have I known such an inspiration. As with any relationship, times were rocky, but there neglects to be any specific moment where I would have preferred not to know the man. He was mine. My Opa. Possibly unfortunate for him and my Oma, I was the only grandchild they got. And as I look back, I feel so blessed, though blessing now comes with a broken heart. For all the times we talked about life, about planting little trees, about investing in the future, I see what large piece of himself he chose to pass along to me.
Right now I’m having difficulty accepting the fact that he’s never going to come home. He will never again sit across the chair I’m now sitting in (writing this), to share a piece of advice or debate about how things look in our government. Never again will he say, “now Bridget, look me in the eye…” and proceed to tell me that everything was going to be okay. I won’t hear his stories again, but I guess, just as he had to do when his father died, I will have to carry it all in my memory as something my Opa used to say.
He taught me nearly everything I know, though constantly reminded to look at the end of my own arm when I need a helping hand. And I think of all the times I took it for granted. I learned how to fish with him and how to ride a bike. He taught me how to put money into savings before I ever got a job. He helped me learn to drive, and told me more about cars than I will ever remember. He made sure I was keeping up on my “R&M” – checking my oil, checking my tires. We even changed out snow tires in the freezing garage only this last winter… I haven’t been able to pay him back for fixing my car, though I doubt he would let me. I can’t pay him back for his investment in my education, though I know he wouldn’t let me.
The knowledge and wisdom my Opa was able to pass on came from years of experience in some of the hardest situations I will most likely never find myself in. The verse we chose to use for the funeral program is odd for such an occasion, but it describes my Opa and the example he was to so many of us blessed to know him. Micah 6:8 says of the Lord, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Through the hard times and through the best times, my Opa was a man of integrity, a man of honor, a man full of love for his family, and a man of truth. I believe if there is anything he would want to pass on to all of us remembering him today, it encompasses these things: defend what is right – help those who need it and love the people around you; look at yourself in the mirror and if you don’t like what you see, do something about it. Enjoy life through every circumstance – life has its ups and downs, but put everything on the balance. And as he would say, the Good Lord is watching out for you.
Now my Opa is up there watching out for me too, probably all of us (a week at his new job in angel wing repair). About a month before he died, I stood all alone with him and he said, I bet there will be days you’ll look up and think, “I wonder what Opa would do in this situation?” By golly, Opa, I can’t stop thinking that. I miss you. There will never be another Opa like you; there will never be a person like you. You are so much of the reason I am who I am – I suppose a little piece of him resides in each one of us. So I close in a song you used to whistle every Saturday night, Opa, “…and though it’s always sweet sorrow to part, I know you’ll always remain in my heart…and now, till we meet again, adios, au revoir, auf wietersehn.”
Ik hoe van jou, Opa.

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