The world has lost a great man.
My friend and Boogie’s grandfather, William Hardy, passed away on Sunday. He was 63 years old.
This had been expected for about two weeks after Tejada’s father had a heart attack and a stroke. Yet that didn’t make it any easier.
His funeral is on Friday. Since he is retired army, he will have a full military ceremony. I imagine that during the service I will think about all he has meant to me over the past three years.
I first met Bill after Tejada and I had been dating for about three months. He was definitely a unique character.
Bill was a large man, well over 300 pounds. He had a high, nasally voice that you couldn’t help but imitate whenever you started a conversation with him. That always made him laugh.
He was never a fancy dresser. He always wore one of three outfits, along with sandals and an old man hat.
He was known as a penny-pincher, which came in handy plenty of times. He went with me when I bought my latest car in November to help negotiate down the price.
What I liked the best about him was what a rational thinker he was. That’s a quality neither Tejada nor her mother possesses. Bill was the voice of reason when it came to frustrations with those two.
I think Bill always respected me. He saw I treated Tejada well and he could tell I was more mature and had a plan for my life, unlike her first husband.
When Tejada and I had to buy a van after Boogie was born, we had to borrow some money from him. Tejada was notorious for borrowing money from him and then not finish paying him back.
I made sure that didn’t happen. Every month, I hand delivered a check with the amount we had agreed upon. That also helped his impression of me as a man.
I think that is a big reason he was so mad at Tejada when she decided to leave. He knew there were a lot of struggles in our marriage, but never believed Tejada when she tried to pin a lot of it on me.
“I know my daughter,” he told me. “She is a pain in the ass.”
Bill was most disappointed about the failed marriage because of Boogie. He hated knowing that Boogie would never know what it was like living in one household.
Despite his disappointment, Bill always went out his way to make sure I still felt like part of the family. He called me up every holiday to personally invite me.
On Christmas, when I didn’t show up because I was mad at Tejada, he yelled at her and called me up asking me to reconsider and come over.
Tejada hated that he was basically taking my side in the split. I was surprised by that as well, though he said it was because he didn’t feel like I did anything wrong.
I don’t have any family out here in Houston, so I appreciated that he tried to make me feel like I was a part of his family, regardless of the issues between Tejada and I. I will always respect him for that.
I think Bill knew this day was coming soon.
He was a huge Western fan, so for his birthday last month I got him a card with John Wayne on it. He sent me an email thanking me for it, and gave me some history about his favorite western stars. He also added this to the letter.
“How can you tell you’re getting old? You get B-Day cards with pictures of dead people on them… My childhood heroes keep joining the ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ as the 50s and 60s pass further into history. One day I will ride with them again.”
I responded, “Hopefully not too soon. Haha.”
Sadly, it was too soon.
He had to be rushed to the hospital two weeks ago with symptoms of a stroke. Doctors determined along with a stroke, he also had a heart attack as a result of his severe diabetes.
Bill’s organs began to fail him while he was in the hospital. His kidneys were the first to go. He also wasn’t able to breathe on his own.
With the shape he was in, it was apparent he probably wasn’t going to survive for too much longer.
After Bill had been in the hospital for a little more than a week, I decided to visit him. I didn’t want to interfere with the family’s time with him, so I went on Monday afternoon when no one else was there.
Bill’s was asleep and he was on a ventilator. He looked in pretty bad shape. I barely recognized him.
The TV was on a morning show. I’m sure that wasn’t what Bill wanted to be listening to, so I turned it on CNBC instead.
After sitting there watching him for 15 minutes, I decided I was going to go. I walked over, grabbed his hand and told him that I was going to leave.
He shook his head no.
Bill was under heavy sedation, which is why his eyes were closed. I didn’t realize that he had been lying there awake.
I asked him if he knew who it was, and he shook his head yes.
I talked to him for about 15 minutes. I told him about the weather, the recent stock market issues and Boogie.
I told Bill he was a brave man.
Again, he shook his head no.
I told him what a great grandfather he was and how he needed to keep fighting for them. A tear ran down his face that I wiped away.
Finally, it was time to go. I grabbed his hand, held it tight and told him again how brave he was.
That was the last time I saw him. His heart gave out on Sunday, and after resuscitating him twice, the family let him pass after he coded a third time.
I’m so glad that was I able to get up to the hospital to see him before he passed. While he wasn’t in great physical shape, I will always remember our last “conversation.”
I’ve taken Bill’s passing fairly well, though there have been several occasions where I couldn’t hold back the tears.
I felt incredibly sad when I saw his best friend, Paul, on Sunday. Paul is probably taking this hardest of everyone, and it was sad to see him in such pain.
I am sadder for Boogie, though. She will never remember her PaPa who loved her so much. I have a great relationship with my grandfather, who I cherish. I couldn’t imagine growing up without having him in my life.
Bill wasn’t in my life long, but I will always remembering him as a great friend and an even better grandfather.
Bill, I hope you are enjoying being with your childhood heroes and the Ghost Riders in the Sky. Love ya big guy!