On October 28th, 2014 at 3:10 in the afternoon, my grandfather passed away.
His health had been declining for months now, and my parents had been warning me. Bracing me to expect him to pass soon. But just like I always had, I deflected. You can ask anyone close to me- I’m an expert at pretending problems don’t exist. It’s caused me a lot more trouble and pain than it’s saved me- especially in this situation.
I visited so rarely. And I regret it with every fiber of my being.
The thought of remembering someone so vibrant and with such a unique personality such as yours in such a state- unable to think clearly, in pain, truly unlike yourself, pained me. I didn’t want to remember you like that. I knew that Grandma was suffering, but I was too cowardly to face it.
My sister reminded me that he would always offer us roses from his rose bushes (that he was oh-so-proud of despite being somewhat sparse). He would take the time to trim off the thorns and leave them in tiny little vases (or just a mug) for his ourselves and our Grandmother. He tried his very best to make those rose bushes bloom, even though they would usually only reveal one, bright red, beautiful rose. Maybe two.
But what I remember the most was him singing, albeit off key, and only one line of the same song. I can recall the exact words. He’d see me and suddenly, as if he hadn’t seen me in years, look surprised. Then he would say: “Sugar! You look so pretty!” Or, as I got older, where I had been.
He might crack a joke, ask me how I’ve been, or talk about whatever food he found that he was so excited about, but he would always sing:
“You are, so beautiful, to me!” And then laugh. I would roll my eyes, annoyed. I’d heard that one line of that one song about ten thousand times, and bratty little me couldn’t stand it. Grandpa would say: “Sugar! You are! Just like your sister!”
Ha, ha, Grandpa. Very funny.
…I miss it.
I’m not trying to make you feel bad, or upset you. I just wanted you to remember that, though the line is overused- time is short. Cherish it.
Hold onto every second (literally) like your life depends on it. My Grandpa was a genuine person who said hello to everyone. We couldn’t go to the grocery store without him breaking into a full blown conversation with a stranger, or running into someone he had met once before. His jokes were borderline offensive (or, completely and totally offensive), but he would tell them to anyone who would listen.
But now he’s gone. And I’m left with so many regrets. I don’t want to turn this into a ‘me, me, me’ fest, but I severely fucked up by ignoring the problem. I fear remembering my loved ones in such a state, and instead of braving it like my strong, beautiful littler sister (you go girl.) I became a coward. My parents asked me if I had visited recently and I would deflect.
No. Work has kind of sucked lately.
No. Did you guys get a new TV?
No. What happened to the tree in the backyard?
And I caught myself doing it today. My Dad asked me if I had seen Grandma lately. Her brothers and sisters all went home today, and she’s now all on her own. I’m afraid to see my strong, boss ass bitch Grandmother, weak and saddened by her loss. Her family has done everything they can to distract her from her pain, but I’m scared that it will hit her all at once.
No. I found out I had another bill to pay today.
There it is, you coward. That’s your excuse? You have a bill to pay?
It’s time to follow my own damn advice. Cherish your time with your loved ones, remember that your problems come second to them. No one is completely selfless, or completely kind down to the bone- we’re human after all. Imperfect like an abstract painting. But in that painting someone sees beauty and creativity that makes it art. Others may see nothing but scribbles and splashes of paint, but they are not the ones you need to worry about. They are not the ones that you want to be.
Those people that see you as you are, a million dollar piece of art, are the ones you should look back on and hold dear. They frame you and make you worthy of being put on display in the finest galleries and museums for others to look at. My Grandparents deserve that attention to detail. I should not be the one that does not bother to look past the splashes of paint and scribbles.
And unfortunately, it took losing someone for me to learn that lesson.
Honestly, I’m not even sure I’m making sense at this point. I think I was just desperate for the chance to get the guilt off of my chest. I’m too proud to talk to my family, too proud to admit that maybe I should have taken another day off of work to give myself time to recover. Hell, I can’t even spit out why I’m upset to my boyfriend of five years.
I just hope you picked up something from this.
And to Grandpa:
I love you. And I’ll see you later.
You wanted to leave this world knowing you made everyone you’ve ever met smile, and you did that. And for that I am happy. You’re a new shining star in the sky, and you will forever be missed.