Not Quite Goodbye- And Some other Thoughts

Less than two weeks ago I wrote a post called Death Comes For Us All- When Do you Start Saying Goodbye. It is about my grandparents. I am down to two. Now that might sound strange to some of you but until a short while ago I had a full set. Don't get me wrong, I love the two that I have now, but I still haven't gotten used to not having the others around.

And to be really honest I think about my paternal grandfather daily. I always knew that he played a big role in my life, but it wasn't until he died that I realized just how much I had leaned upon him. Forgive me for being bitter, but just as I was really beginning to learn he was taken from me.
More on this later.

Sunday morning I received a call from my grandfather letting me know that the paramedics had taken my grandmother to the emergency room. "Jack, I need you now. Go to the hospital and see that my girl is taken care of."

I told him not to worry and he said "I don't. With your parents out of town you are the head of the family, you'll do the right thing."

It felt a little goofy hearing that, but he takes it seriously and so did I. As a kid I couldn't wait to become a grown up and now that I am, well I miss being a kid. My kids always laugh when they hear older people refer to me as a kid, it is beyond their comprehension...for now.

Off I went to the hospital. Grandma has a heart condition and is just short of 94. You never know what can happen. I was optimistic because there is not much use in being anything else. When I got there I was pleased to hear her complain about being hungry. If you feel that badly you're probably ok.

They kept her there for about two days. Ran some tests and decided that there was no reason to keep her there any longer. Enter the eldest grandson, moi. Off to the hospital I went to get grandma so that I could take her home.

As we waited for some paperwork we talked about my kids and what is happening in my life. She told me "Jack, I don't think that I am long for this world. My time is coming." It wasn't said with any drama, just in a matter of fact voice. I told her that I wasn't convinced that she was going anywhere soon and she laughed. "Men always think they have the answers."

I stared at her and remembered the dark haired lady who had more energy than a dozen people. Until she was 80 something she carried the laundry up and down two flights of stairs and didn't think twice about it. For a moment I got a bit choked up. She is right, she is closer to the end than the beginning, but I am not ready.

When I look at her and my grandfather I see a team. Truthfully I think that she has always been the real source of strength. She has always been this incredibly happy, optimistic woman. She always kept him up. I suppose that part of what concerns me is that if she goes first I am not sure how long we'll get to keep grandpa around. It will devastate him.

This afternoon I got another glimpse of how deep their love and affection runs. When I brought her home from the hospital he was sleeping in a chair. Just as soon as he saw her he smiled and ran to the door. That is not an exaggeration, he ran.

For a moment I felt like I was intruding. She said hi and he kissed her. He KISSED her. In the awkward silence I made a crack about it and he smiled at me and made a crack about how "this beautiful lady helped ensure that I came to be."

I won't buy grief. I am not asking for the malach hamavet to come looking for anyone. That reminds me of when my other grandfather told me that he had a special surprise for him. I can still see him telling me that when the Angel of Death came for him he'd pop him in the mouth with a quick right, kick him in the balls and then throw his feathery ass out the window. As a kid that was pretty funny.

For some reason this reminds me of a conversation I once had. Here are a couple of quotes from that conversation:
I live alone and apart.

I didn't ask for an apology. It is what it is. I can only be who I am. The path I walk is one of my own choosing.
I think that I need to Google that. I like the way that it sounds, but it sounds really familiar. I'd hate to find out that I accidentally plagiarized it

My life is one of perpetual motion, one transition to another. It is probably not any different than anyone else, but sometimes it sure feels like it. Watching my grandparents makes me exceptionally aware of so many things. Some are very good and some are not so good.

So as I approach another fork in the road I need to consider which path to take. Life is too short. If I could live to be a thousand I'd still feel like I have a million things that I want to do and not enough time to try them all.

Shakespeare was right, Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Somebody do me a favor and check that quote, I am too tired to Google, which probably indicates that I should take my lazy butt to bed.

Night all.


Michael said...

Jack, I'm sorry to hear that you're losing your grandparents. I lost my last grandparent last summer; it was a sad, sad time.

You have my deepest sympathies.

Michael said...

Oh, the Shakespeare quote is from Macbeth. I forget the Act, scene, and line, but it's when he learns of his wife's suicide.

Val said...

Jack, I absolutely love when you talk about your family. There is such a soft, sincere and authentically loving feeling in the way you write about them.
Your grandparents sound wonderful and you're probably right about what will happen if your grandmother passes first. It's hard to live without the part of you that gives your life the sunshine it needs.

The Misanthrope said...

Your grandparents keep each other going. That is very nice and very sweet.

Jack Steiner said...


Thanks, I appreciate it, and you are most definitely right about the play. I used to be able to rattle off a million quotes from Macbeth. Too bad I couldn't do it like Patrick Stewart.


Don't go ruining my reputation. I have almost earned my first Curmudgeon merit badge. ;)


Boy do they ever.

Robert Avrech said...

Deeply moving.

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