My two week self-imposed period of mourning has made me realize several things. One, I miss my grandfather. Two, posting to my blog is something I can stop at a moment’s notice. Three, I missed posting. And four, I missed being a 13 year old trapped in an adult’s body. Death is serious business, I understand. But who, really, wants to be serious? Or an adult? I have had to deal with nursing homes and creditors and banks and morticians and real estate agents and the Salvation Army and the VA and social workers and lawyers and I’m sure there are several other groups of people I am forgetting. I wish I could forget them all. Did I use the past tense? Sorry. I am still dealing with them. And getting stressed out. Good thing my wife has been helpful in dealing with more than half of them or I would have pulled my hair out long before this.
I wanted everyone who sent their condolences to me and my family to understand how much that meant. When I was a child I had an imaginary friend who was the kindest, warmest, most caring pal I could conceive of. But he never could equal what I have felt here, in this strange community of friends. Imaginary or otherwise. Later in life, my imaginary friend somehow morphed into a young, scantily clad woman who was …, well, best not to go into that here. This was to be a remembrance, an appreciation, of a life. And I did appreciate my grandfather. Through my father and him, I acquired my own twisted sense of humor that, even now, I can not suppress. There have been tears aplenty in the last few months and weeks and days of my grandfather’s life. But there has been laughter, too. And I will always remember the nurse who stood at his bed with me and stroked his arm as if he had been her life long friend.
He was not a great man. How many really are? But he fought in World War II and received a purple heart (for which he received $133 in VA benefits per month for the last 70 or so years). He was a man of few words who loved his wife so dearly that he had little time for his son and daughter. But, truth be told, he was also busy with giving all 3 of them as large a portion he could manage of the American dream. He told me stories of how, when he was younger, he would smoke, and drink, and gamble. Sometimes all at once. But he quit the cigars, the cigarettes, the beers and the Four Roses whiskey, all cold turkey. He never did give up the gambling, though, and I used to drive him to his local casino once or twice a month to play Keno (a variation of Bingo, as far as I could tell). After my grandmother, his wife, died in 2001, he sold their 3 bedroom home and moved into a single wide trailer in a senior’s mobile home park. He became very misanthropic, hating everyone. When it was time to give up his driver’s license (at the age of 90) he never ventured out of his house except for when I would come by twice a week to take him shopping or to his doctor’s appointments.
This is not turning out to be quite the celebration I thought it would be. But I do miss him. He worked until the age of 89 as a crossing guard and gave a jacket to a young kid one day when the kid came to school shivering because the family couldn’t afford a winter coat. Another time, he suffered a black eye and cut lip when, with one swift fist to the side of his face, he was knocked to the ground by an angry bicyclist who was berating a woman driver.
He was the kindest, warmest, most caring person I will ever have the good fortune to know. He was also irascible, cantankerous, judgmental, and sometimes very frustrating.
But he was my grandfather!
Please visit MightWar and read her post A Farewell to The Giant which has nothing to do with the death of my grandfather except that it is a very well written and heartfelt post that made me wish I had known her father!