Those who define love

3generations

Last time I bothered to write, it was about the impending loss of my Grandmother, which hasn't happened yet. She's holding steady. The last couple times I saw her, though, I couldn't understand her speech, she didn't appear to have any idea who I was and spent most of the time I was there agitated. The girls have no idea how to be with her and honestly, I don't either. I have never been any good at sitting still. I have to be talking and doing all the damn time and with her, that's not always the way to be. Clearly it's a skill I should learn.

But it's my Grandfather I really came to write about today. He's taking a rather severe turn, and at 95-years-old has also been put on Hospice care. His body is shutting down and we have no real idea how long he'll be with us, though the doctors tell us to get ready. I've offered to take over the task of writing the obituary, though have only managed to write something that more closely resembles a eulogy. I've discovered how little I know about the basics (I know he built airplanes during the war, but can't recall the name of the company; I know he was born in Arizona but don't know the town, etc) and have had to reach out to my Aunt to fill in so many blanks. The idea was to remove this burden from her, and yet I don't know enough to totally take it on. Navigating the newspapers rules for an obituary have been frustrating as well. And the cost! It's amazing how much money they must make off death.

But a eulogy I can write. I know his heart. I know what he's done for the world around him. I know how generous and kind he has always been. And I know how he shaped me and my family. I could write about that for days and days.

Unlike my Grandmother, at least him I can visit. He still has his sense of humor and that sparkle in his eye. He and I talked for three hours straight, though I was told he was in such bad shape (exhausted and sick) after I left that all I can feel is guilt about that time. Anya's eyes were like giant saucers when she sat holding his hand in the photo above, she had no idea what had happened to her great-grandfather. But he's still there, can still sit up and stroke my hand and kiss my children and let that overwhelming heart of his spill love all over the room. He said to me, "We gave away so much love and now it's all coming back." He says it like it's a shock, like it's not the way the world should work, in the same tone one would reserve for stumbling across a fully set, formal dining room table in the middle of the woods.

I was closer to my maternal grandfather in a lot of ways. His death hit me like a ton of bricks, so much so that I was sent home from work for a couple days. But I think this Grandfather shaped me in ways I am only now becoming fully aware. When I once ran away from home, I ended up in his living room, snuggled in his chest, my tears staining his shirt. When I fell through my bedroom wall it was him who came to my rescue, pointing out to my mother how clever I was to discover the leak in the pipes behind where I went through. He helped build the house I grew up in. His home was where I spent countless hours with cousins, these Grandparents shaped what a close, local family should look like. I always felt at home with them.

I don't know what the world will look like without him.

And I'm unbelievably sad that I will soon have to learn.

Grandpa and me

Ever wondered where I got my blue eyes? This guy. Photo by Lily, age nine.