Saying Goodbye to Grandpa

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One very special moment of our vacation I will always hold in my heart was being able to see my Grandpa, my dad’s dad and the last remaining grandparent in my family.  This was particularly special for me as I was able to introduce him to Z and Robi.

While he lay there, we all talked and chatted; Robi was very entertaining and Grandpa instantly fell in love with him.  I was sad to see him so sick, but happy that I could see him while were in there and that I could introduce him to my family.

Robi was getting restless.  Z and I had taken turns following him around the unit Grandpa was in while trying to keep him from bursting in on some unsuspecting patient.  For the umpteenth time Z brought Robi back into the room, trying to keep him from destroying whatever lay in his path, and we decided it might be best to wait in the car while mom and dad finished visiting.

I told Grandpa that we needed to leave with Robi and he understood.  I went to his side to give him a goodbye hug and kiss and he grabbed my hand in his powerful grip.  Grandpa may have been thin – he was always thin – but little did people know that his was not skin and bones – he was muscle and bones. He packed more punch than anyone would ever realize.  In his 80’s he still had a barrel of a chest and a grip that could that could send a young man to his knees.

He lay there holding my hand, looked me in the eye and began saying a blessing over me.  It was the most powerful and emotional moment – almost like something out of the Bible.  And all I could think of was how grateful I was that to have this special moment with him.  It touched me so deeply because Grandpa was never overt about his faith.  He had a strong faith in God, but was very private about it.  I had never before heard him say the things that he said to me, and it gave me a momentary glimpse of some deeper things in his heart.  I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live.

With tears in both of our eyes we hugged and said goodbye; and somehow I think he sensed this may be the last time we’d see each other here on earth.

Before we left we managed to get a picture of 4 generations.

We arrived back in Zagreb and a week later I got a call from my parents that Grandpa had gone to be with Jesus.

I knew it would happen, I just didn’t think it would be so soon.  And suddenly the fact that I had been able to introduce him to Z and Robi, his blessing, the picture – it all meant so much more to me.  How close I could have come to missing that final goodbye.  Had our trip been one or two weeks later he would have gone before we arrived.  But God always does all things perfectly!

When my father learned that I would be writing a special tribute to my Grandpa, he sent me the eulogy he read at the funeral.  I’d like to share it with you.

There were some things about his life that I knew: he was in the Navy, served during WW2, and that he was a hard worker – but some of the information was new to me.  It brought tears to my eyes and made me all the more proud to be apart of the Hackett family.  I hope you take a moment to read the entire tribute to a great man I call Grandpa.

JUNE 15, 2011
Forrest Dean Hackett was born in Barnard, Missouri to Ray and Jessie Gertrude Hackett, August 4, 1925. He attended elementary school in Barnard, MO through the eighth grade and then began attending Hoarsmann High School, Maryville, MO. He enjoyed baseball, track and boxing in high school. He was also a member of the Civil Air Patrol. Dean graduated high school in 1943 and joined the United States Navy in November of that year.
He was stationed at gunnery school in Farragut, ID. Upon completion of training was stationed on a troop ship serving as an anti-aircraft gunner and was sent to the Pacific Theater. When going through the Panama Canal Dad had a terrible experience while on guard duty. A terrorist boarded the ship and would not heed his call to halt. Dad had to shoot the man at very close range. This was his first war time shooting, a memory he suffered with all his life.

Source: USMC Archives
Dean’s ship was among the convoy landing troops at Guadalcanal. The attack against their ship was so intense they became separated. They had to fight their way out and rejoin the convoy. Dad’s ship also landed troops at the battle for Leyte. The fighting was desperately fierce. Their ship was under heavy aerial attack. Dad’s gun took a direct hit. His partner was killed and Dean was severely wounded. I remember several times during high school when Dad would remove a small of piece of shrapnel that had surfaced from deep within his leg or back.
Dean received an honorable discharged from the United States Navy, April 2, 1946. He returned to his home in Barnard, Mo. with a dream of returning to farming with Grandpa Hackett. He had saved most of his salary and purchased a brand new tractor with all the implements. However, Grandpa was an old-fashioned farmer. He would only allow horses on his land. No modern equipment would ever be used on his farm. That held true clear into the 1960’s. The last time I was on Grandpa’s farm in the mid-60’s; he was still farming with his two farm horses, Topper and Daisy.
After arriving home in 1946, Dad met a recent high school graduate, Mary Wiles. She was a beautiful fun-loving young woman who loved to dance. They were married, October 19, 1946. Their first daughter, Linda Cheryl was born August 27, 1947. Dean moved his family from Missouri to Spokane, WA. in the spring of 1948. He had loved the PNW when he was stationed at Farragut. Since Grandpa would not allow Dad to pursue his dream farm, he made the decision to move back to the PNW.  Their second child, Forrest Dean, Jr. (Doc) was born October 15, 1948.
Dean was hired in Spokane by Cyr Painting. Burlie Cyr agreed to teach Dad the painting and wallpaper business and became Dad’s best friend. He also taught Dad Northwest fishing and hunting. They worked together for twenty years.  When Burlie passed away of cancer in the late 1960’s he willed the business to Dad.
Dean and Mary’s third child was born, September 23, 1951. Then an opportunity came to open a painting and wallpaper business in Quincy, WA. A very funny family memory is from this time. Dad’s panel truck stopped running on the way to work. He needed Mom to come with her car and push it. He was only around the block and across a field from the apartment where we lived. Mom pulled the car around and pulled up behind the panel truck. Thinking Dad was in the truck she pulled up bumper to bumper and began pushing the truck. Dad was actually running back across the field to the house. He saw what Mom was doing and began running back toward the truck calling, “Mary, Mary.”
While living in Quincy, Dad discovered his life-long love of bowling.  He won first place in the Quincy Open Bowling Tournament in 1958. This began an amazing series of first places finishes over the next 34 years. From 1959 to 1993 Dad’s bowling team won first place 18 times. His team won the 1969 Northwest International Bowling Congress Championship.
Dean moved back to Spokane and went to work for Burlie Cyr in 1959. He joined the Spokane Bowling Association in 1962 and met his dear and close friend Burt Lindgren. Dad held several offices in the Spokane Association including Director of the Spokane City Leagues, Vice President and President. He was inducted into the Spokane Bowling Hall of Fame in 1982.
Dean became a member of the Northwest International Bowling Congress in 1972. He served as Director and as President and on May 21, 1994, he was inducted into the Northwest International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame.
Dad loved bowling in tournaments. He led many teams to the national tournaments across the nation, Syracuse, NY in 1973, Knoxville, TN, Reno, NV. Throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s Dad bowled in the national tournaments. He had great times with his bowling partners on these trips.
1988-1989 something very special began happening in Dad’s life. He began to revisit the faith of his childhood. His mother was killed in a car wreck when Dad was twelve years old. He became bitter at God at that time. I remember Thanksgiving 1990 while visiting at our home Dad began asking questions about faith and God that he had never asked. He began attending the Valley Open Bible Church and in the spring of 1995 he responded to an invitation and received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Faith was very personal to Dad. He never spoke of it much and certainly never forced it on anyone. But through the next sixteen years his faith would become very real to him.
When I moved to live with Dad in 1960, I learned very quickly he loved to work and thought it was important for his son to love to work. Painting and wallpaper was slow in those years and so extra work was taken on by the whole family. We were up at 4:00 AM and off to clean the Seattle First Bank in Opportunity. Home at 6:30 to get breakfast and off to school. After football and tack it was get dinner and then off to Seattle First Bank in Dishman. When the floors needed to be stripped and re-waxed it was late nights and Saturdays. I cannot tell you how many times Dad and I worked around the clock to complete a job.
Dad loved to work and he loved his career. He loved his customers and served them with his whole heart. In 2006 Dad’s health was such he knew he could not continue to live in the large house and care for the large grounds around his home on Pines Road.
He moved to Grace Court where he found a wonderful new family of friends. Oh, he did not give up his business. He rented a storage unit to store his paint and wallpaper equipment and supplies so he could continue to work. He fell in love with his dear new friends, Tom, Gloria and so many others. He looked forward to the potlucks and watching his beloved Mariners and Gonzaga.
He was still doing work for his dear customers in the fall and winter of 2009. January 2010 pneumonia and kidney failure broke down his health. He finally had to close “Dean’s Painting and Wallpaper.” He could no longer live on his own and had to move from his beloved Grace Court to Rose Point.
After moving to Rose Point he continued to battle poor health for the next seventeen months in March 2011 he moved to Sullivan Park. The wonderful staff of Sullivan Park provided excellent care with love and compassion. June 10, 2011 the Lord Jesus called Dad home.
He is survived by his two daughters and son-in-laws, Linda and Jeff Salfen of Oro Valley, AZ and Rebecca Sue and Ed Seubert of Priest River, ID; his son and daughter-in-law, Forrest Dean (Doc) and Wanda, of Hermiston, OR; a sister, Dorothy Jones of Amarillo, TX; seven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Thank you Dad, for the wonderful memories.
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