The first, my dad’s dad, died before I was born. My step-grandfather died in my mid-twenties, a wonderful man with a penchant for smiles, a gift for the harmonica and a gun-toting, tree-burning hatred of raccoons in the yard of his farm.
His wife, my paternal grandmother, was next. Like I suspect I’ll be, she refused to relinquish her home even after it was clear she could no longer navigate it properly. I miss having coffee with her and watching the Jays play.
My grandfather on my mother’s side died a couple of years ago. He may have been the kindest man that ever lived, and I don’t mean that facetiously or in a “just because I knew him” kind of way. I think he would rank with Ghandi or the Dalai Lama, but since he was just the postmaster general of a small northern town in Ontario, he won’t get the same press.
If ever there were a man to emulate in his willingness to help out, to create adventures or take a truly present interest in whatever the people around him were doing, it was him. My grandmother, so recently deceased, was much the same, though the last few years she wasn’t really there, having been lost to Alzheimer’s. My grandfather, true to form, cared for her every second he could, and when he knew his body would no longer endure, made sure she reached a place she could be taken care of, stuck around for a bit to be certain, then went peacefully and suddenly on New Year’s Day.
Part of me feels like an orphan, despite having both parents. But these are the people that loved me and whom I loved, from the time I was a very small child.
And it’s very hard to know I won’t see them again. Won’t hear their laughs. Won’t talk about stolen bases or ancestry or play dominoes. Won’t head out on the boat to the islands of Lake Nipissing or hear a duet on the organ and harmonica. Won’t smell raisin cookies in the kitchen or hear that laugh that showed she wasn’t really upset with us ever; she loved the irreverent.
My car is falling apart too. These past four weeks have been a trial. I am being tested in every way. Intellectually, emotionally, socially and financially.
I’m not sure yet if I’m passing. I’m still alive, so I figure I must be doing something right.
Unfortunately, not all of us are, and that’s a damned shame.