My grandpa passed away last week. He was 92, and had a full life. When I was home to visit in August, the emotion I caught from him was one of peace.
I love my grandpa, and miss him terribly. Everyone who has said they are sorry for my loss, I thank you. Everyone who has followed that with “he’s in a better place,” well, that kind of pat answer doesn't comfort me, it kinda makes me mad. It tries to roll my overwhelming grief into a neat, socially acceptable package that is safe to take in public. But grief isn't neat, and it isn't comfortable. It pulses from the nagging distraction to full gut-wrenching obsession. I won’t ever see my grandpa again, and that isn't comfortable.
Really, I don’t want comfort. I want my grandpa back. If I can’t have him, I want to remember him.
I want to grab every memory now, before the business and busyness of daily life crowd them to the back corners of my mind. I want to remember riding along with him when he drove the bank route, listening to him tell me words of wisdom of life, and which small Illinois towns had the best soda fountains. I want to remember helping him put up hay and take care of the horses. I want to remember him trying so hard to make things perfect that he’d get angry. Because Grandpa felt things strongly.
He felt love for Grandma strong enough that he willingly distanced himself from his own family to marry her. He felt strong enough love for Mom and I to show up with boxes of food the winter Mom had pneumonia so badly she couldn't work. He felt strong enough love for me to invest in my future in the form of a pony, judging that my high-energy would better off channeled into a pony than let run wild. He was probably right.
Grandpa gave me so much. He gave me things—my pony, my favorite car (the Delta 88), a jar of pickled beets every time I came to visit. He gave me life lessons—how to work for what was important to me, how to organize my finances, how to be stubborn when needed, and how to forgive and accept. He gave me his time and his love. Without these things, I wouldn't be the person I am today.
I love you grandpa, and I will remember you.