GOODBYE




Grandfather passed away last night. The news came as I was cleaning out my closet. When I heard about what happened it knocked the wind out of me; I went into shock and hung up the phone without saying anything. I sat on my bed and stared at my reflection in the mirror, feeling alarms going off. I felt overwhelmed by feelings of grief at a time when all there is available is to suffer in silence. Alone.

I feel so much gratitude to him for raising me and mentoring me in various aspects of my life. His life story was one of overcoming limitations and finding great success. He traveled to every country and saw the world, then came back with trophy souvenirs to remember his travels by. He did everything he ever wanted to do and he started a very close-knit family. We have done everything together. He went to all my graduations. He infected me with my love for tactile paper and the postal service. He taught me discipline and seriousness, but above all he taught me diligence and honesty.



One day when I was a kid he drove me to the post office and taught me the very comical "proper way" to mail out letters. He instructed me to tell the mailbox where my letter was going, and to say goodbye to the letter as you pushed it into the slot of the mailbox. The letter made a soft klunk as it hit the floor of the mailbox. I still remember the intensity of the sun as it hit that parking lot and the way my young face was reflected on the window as I peered out from my seat. I had light brown hair and my eyes were two large, deep pools of antimatter. My hair was swept back into a ponytail that got messy from my running around the house. I had loose streaks of wavy hair framing my face. The memory is so distant now that I rememember it as if I was looking at a Kodak photo. The edges of the photo have started to weather and yellow with time. It feels as if you're looking through a time machine at a very different set of hues from the vivid colors you can see around you now.  Memory fades as it ages.

I remember when he taught me how to cook, how affectionately he explained step by step of his process. He was so proud of how methodical he was, and the precision with which he carried out his organization was militant. As militant as I am. His office was spotless, and his pens were all borrowed at some point when I was going to school. I used so many of his sticky notes.

I remember long afternoons at his house, watching Tom and Jerry on the television and eating hearty home cooked meals that were prepared with lots of love. I had a quiet retreat with a ton of room to run and grow in, undisturbed by anybody as long as I was around them. Both of my grandparents sought to shelter me from the world and raised me with more love than I've ever known from any other person. They fed my love for dinosaurs, coloring books, space, science, aliens, Disney, Japan, pets, birds, doing the right thing, and cooking/eating. I didn't know anything other than how to enjoy life and how to eat myself into a coma in my time at their house.



As relieved as I am that he is no longer in pain from the Hellish holidays we just endured together, I feel the hole his departure has left. I feel more alone, one step closer to a future where I have no one who remembers my story or saw it happen.

I have to sit through an entire day of travel to go home and I am dreading it. Having someone around forever makes you feel they'll never be absent. He knew me my entire life. I only saw one third of his.

I am writing this entry today to commemorate our relationship. My heart is broken. He was unconscious the last time I said goodbye to him in person. I wonder if he remembered I visited the hospital at all.

I'll never forget his jovial humor. He made jokes most of the day and he knew how to enjoy life to the fullest. I'll never forget the lessons he taught me and the stories he shared with me. I was so lucky to have met him and to have grown up in his care.



Then the day that it happened I recorded this last bit, "I look forward to having lunch with you again."

2 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful tribute to him. My heart goes out to you. My father is 95 and he is in the hospital, in much pain. We don't want them to be in pain, but we don't think they will ever leave. Inevitably, they do. My father is to my daughter as your grandfather was (and is) to you. I will share this with her.
    Blessed be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your empathy. I really appreciate it.
      Blessings.

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