Sunday, May 03, 2009


My grandfather passed away Saturday afternoon, after a brief illness. I had not seen him in almost seven years. It is difficult to put this loss into words; we were not close but he was my Poppy and I loved him. My feelings are tangled up in a web of sadness and anger and guilt and helplessness, but I am also awash in a flood of things that make me smile.
  • "Hey, what I'm doin'?" was his usual greeting, or maybe just what we all think of and say when seeing a picture of him or talking about him....
  • We would go and get the Sunday donuts, and he would always have Velamints in his car. They were square.
  • He would wake up at ridiculous o'clock in the morning, drink coffee for about 4 hours, and wait for everyone else to get up. I can still hear the clink of the spoon against the coffee cup.
  • There's a picture from our wedding of Poppy with Pete and my dad. They look like they're negotiating a deal- mules and cattle for a bride.
  • His golfer's tan had me convinced as a kid that he looked like Johnny Mathis ("Honey, Johnny Mathis is black," said my mother patiently).
  • When I was three and my brother was christened, I wore my favorite dress and he took me to buy a pink donut on a stick. It was the best donut anytime, at all, EVER.
He was neither saint nor sinner. He was a man, and he made mistakes. But he was a good man, and he loved the people in his life the best way he knew how. I have to believe that. Families are such loaded organisms, filled with the echoes of events that took place half a lifetime ago, or last week. Our family histories become ingrained into who we are, and most of the time it doesn't matter that the things that happen may not have involved you directly. It enters the collective past and you live with it, breathe it in, carry it around with you for as long as you walk this earth.

I don't know what comes next. I do know that this man, my grandfather, although rarely present has left his mark on my life and my family. The world is not the same without him in it.

1 comment:

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