Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Leo: The Legend

The legendary Leo Vanoni - Grandpa Leo; Uncle Leo; our own Leo's namesake - passed away late in the afternoon today.  He was surrounded by many members of his family; he was able to say goodbye, and to slip out of this world, nestled in peace and comforted in love.

I am profoundly grateful that we were there 10 days ago to say our own goodbye.  I am grateful for the hours I spent holding his hand, smiling into his weary face, locking eyes with him, praying silently for him, bearing witness to the greatness of his life, the pain of leaving, the sorrow we felt, the memories and the laughter we shared.

I'm grateful for witnessing as Jeff became both practiced nurse and beloved grandson, competently fixing his oxygen tube, arranging his pillows, adjusting his hearing aids, putting us at ease with his skill, comforting us with his compassion.
I'm grateful that our children sensed the importance of our time with Grandpa Leo.  I watched as they stepped over the oxygen tubes snaking across the living room and snuggled close up next to Grandpa Leo. I heard them say, tenderly and repeatedly, "I love you, Grandpa."
56 years ago, Grandpa Leo (aka Uncle Leo) introduced "Uncle Leo's Barn" to the Ventura County Fair.... tomorrow, Uncle Leo's Barn will open its doors at the Fair for the 57th year.  Aunt Laurie observed wryly, "The fair starts tomorrow," she said.  "This was the only way he was going to be able to make it."  Indeed, though his stature was small, Leo's spirit is huge.  I have no doubt his presence will be felt, that "Ventura County Fair" and "Leo Vanoni" will remain synonymous for another generation.

99 years ago on this day, my own beloved grandmother, Jean Rae Seehaver, was born into this world.  99 years later, Leo Vanoni, the grandfather I claim as one of my own, left this earthly place.

I hope they meet tonight.  Grandma will offer him a gin martini; Grandpa will teach her how to select the perfectly ripe avocado....

Sunset over the Ranch
Life is beautiful.

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