This is a photo of my grandparents on their wedding day. On July 19th, my grandfather reunited with his wife who made her transition about nine months ago on October 15th. They’d been together well more than 60 years.
I’m beginning to learn how to read the signs. I got the call before 6:30 in the morning. Since I’m the only one in the family more likely to call rather than text (because I like to hear the sound of my loved ones’ voices), I knew this was bad news. My sister had told me earlier that Daddy was ailing and my father told me just last week he was using a pacemaker, so I wasn’t completely surprised when she told me he died. A phone call at that time of day can only be bad news.
I stayed in bed a moment after disconnecting the call. But I couldn’t go back to sleep right then. I put it out to my social media friends and alternated between going through my networks and going back to bed to try to get some of that sleep back. I finally got up for good around 10 and later managed to get a bit of my grief out by writing it down.
The last time I saw my grandfather was the same day I last saw my grandmother. This man had a lifelong phobia of hospitals. I never found out why, but I know he managed to visit his oldest son when he suffered a stroke. I later found out through one of my niece’s Facebook accounts that he also went to hold his wife’s hand when my grandmother first started going back and forth between the hospital and the nursing home. I’m so grateful those kids saw that love and devotion between them in that one act.
In a way, that’s who Daddy was in my eyes. I can say with no reservations that I considered him the main man in my life. I know he wasn’t perfect, but he was the closest to it I ever came across in my life. He had two children before he married my grandmother then they had five more. They made a home and semi-raised my mother’s oldest two children until they graduated high school.
It’s hard for me to believe he’s really gone. This is the same man who was still trying to climb ladders to the roof of his house just a couple of years ago. I know he’d been having some health problems recently and he never raised himself from his reclining position when I hugged him twice before I left on my last visit. But it never occurred to me he would die.
I remember he was the one I told once that I hoped I died before he did. I was a child at the time and I guess I somehow already had a since of what he meant to me. I allowed myself this one delusion in life that my maternal grandparents and parents would never die. He lived long enough to see four generations come under him, so I kept that delusion a little while longer than I should have.
Now it’s time to let go of it and hope I told Daddy how much I loved him in life. He was the only grandfather I ever knew and the role model for the type of man I’d hope to have by my side for the next 60 or 70 years like he stayed with my grandmother. In the next week, I’ll go home, see the new additions to my family and remember how he used to make me laugh. I’ll also remind myself that he’s with Mother now, so he’s okay. They both are. And I will be.
My grandfather on Mother’s Day in 2010.