My grandfather passed away yesterday afternoon.
We saw this coming, and I got to say goodbye to him this summer before I left (though I didn’t really go into it in this entry). This doesn’t make it any easier on anyone and I wish very much that I could be in New England now with my family.
I’m coming to realize that grief is a strange thing. On the one hand, I mostly go about my day. On the other, I will be in the middle of something completely innocuous, like grocery shopping, when something will remind me of him. (There are a lot of day to day things that remind me of lots of people in my life, and Grandaddy is no exception.) The initial thought is normal, with some wistful amusement. They’re mostly happy memories, after all. And then I’m reminded that I’m never going to see him again and it’s all I can do to not start publicly crying over the olives in the grocery aisle.
This is made worse by the fact that I really, really hate crying in front of anyone. Even crying on the phone is hard for me, so on top of dealing with my emotions regarding my grandfather, I’m internally yelling at myself not to cry. Blogging about it may be public, but it’s different, and writing has long been how I process things, publicly or not.
I will miss him.
I’m sorry that you had the dubious pleasure of being dubbed “Other Ba”* in the years before my vocabulary reached a point where the three syllables of “Grandaddy” were possible. By the time my memory begins, you were very much Grandaddy, a big tall pale giant of a man who knew everything.
Thank you. Thank you for showing me the constellations when I was a child. Thank you for walking along the rocks of Ogunquit looking for sea glass with me. Thank you for typing up my childhood scrawl into my very first short stories. Thank you for answering my childhood questions of “why” and “what” on squirrel hibernation and martinis and anything else I could come up with. For falling into that pond in an attempt to show us a snake that was sunning itself on a just out of reach rock. Thank you for your blueberry pancakes, served on oven-warmed plates with real Maine maple syrup and the blueberries picked from the bush out back of the farmhouse.
Thank you for genetics. I seemed to have inherited your organizational skills, something that became clearer to me that afternoon this past summer where you told me about how you had your funeral service and all your other arrangements already taken care of. What you actually said was, “It’s kind of a bummer to plan a party you don’t get to go to.”
Despite the sadness surrounding those plans, I had to laugh. Anyone who knows me knows I inherited that particular skill.
I also seemed to have inherited your knees, which as a twenty something year old female I’m not going to thank you for.
I want to let you know that I think of you when I look at the stars.
That the food I crave when I am traveling far from the land of American food is the blueberry pancakes you made.
That I’m grateful for your place in my life, my memories, and your role in shaping who I am.
I love you, Grandaddy.
* The family name for my grandmother is “Ba,” which came from my time as an infant (I’m the oldest grandchild) but it stuck more than “Other Ba” did.