Monday, June 13, 2011

Rest In Peace, EHH.

*If I ramble at any point/points, I apologize.*

My grandpa's funeral service was Saturday the 11th.

He died Thursday morning. I knew it was coming. I knew Wednesday it would be soon because my mom wanted me to drive 90 minutes to where she lives and hang out at the house with my sister and youngest brother while she stayed at my grandparents house. I didn't mind and the Boyfriend and I headed out there.

Once I got to my mom's on Wednesday, I took my siblings to get dinner, we ate and watched movies. I checked my phone obsessively for the time. Thursday was my other brother's birthday and I had hoped that Grandpa would pass Wednesday just because I didn't want him to pass on my brother's birthday. Having someone you know die on your birthday sucks, especially when it's someone you're close with. And more so, he's been in pain for so long I was just hoping it would end finally. It didn't happen until 6 AM on the 9th, though. My mom called me. I hadn't been able to sleep at all Wednesday so I was still up, lounging in a recliner in the living room only halfway paying attention to whatever movie I had on. I knew what she would say before I answered the phone but I braced myself for it anyway. She had me go wake up my sister and younger brother to tell them. I don't think my sister had been asleep anyway, just laying there. And if she had, I could tell she knew as soon as I opened my mouth to tell her because really, why else would I be in there at that time?

I didn't cry during or after that phone call. I knew it was coming but that's not why I didn't cry. No matter how long you know, you still can't really be prepared for the moment when that phone rings. I've been dreading seeing my mom's name on my caller ID for months now. Every time she would call, I'd tense up and prepare for the news that he was gone. Each time, it wasn't that. Except for Thursday morning.

Yet, I didn't cry. The sun was rising and I decided to go outside to look at it. I love sunrise yet I don't often get to see them. So, I went outside and looked at the beautiful pink and orange sky. The sun a huge burning bright ball coming up on the horizon, a cool breeze barely there in the early morning. My sister followed me outside and we both walked down the road a little bit and took pictures of the sunrise. (My mom lives out in the country so there's a lot of open space and not a lot of people nor traffic.) There was something so beautiful about it. I find nature very calming in all honesty and that's the reason I went outside in the first place. When something upsets me in my life these days, I take a different approach to it quite often. No self-harm, drugs or crawling deep inside a liquor bottle. I go outside, I breathe in fresh air and I look at all the good that's still around me. I look at the sky, the trees, whatever is in front of me that isn't man made. It doesn't always calm me down a lot. Sometimes it's only a little bit but it's always enough, though. It centers me and I can think clearly, feel clearly. I don't know what it is and really, I don't try to figure it out. If it ain't broke.. ;)

We went to see my grandma on Friday. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They would come for visits regularly. We got to spend weekends at their place on a regular basis. Spring breaks, weeks at a time during the summer. My brother J and I spent a lot of time with them and around them. I know I'm lucky for that because not everyone has grandparents as wonderful as mine. I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time around them and have them be so influential in my life.

That was their first time I had been in their house without Grandpa being there. It was weird. He retired at 65 and every time I remember being at their house, he was always there. I felt empty in a way, like a part of me was suddenly missing. My grandma had me in the back bedroom that used to be my grandfather's room within a couple minutes of me being there. She just wanted to talk and she started crying. I hugged her but I didn't cry. I looked around the room, still full with all of his stuff and it just struck me as odd that he wouldn't ever sleep in his bed or even walk in that room again. My dad came back there after a while and the three of us sat and talked for a while back there. Some serious stuff, some funny things that I hadn't ever known about.

We moved out of the room. There were a lot of family members there and I felt weird sitting in grandpa's room even though he hadn't used it in a while. He'd been very bad off and had taken to just sleeping in his recliner in the living room instead of his bed. I digress. I sat on the couch and people were chattering about this and that. Except Grandpa wasn't there in his chair in the corner chiming in with the occasional wise words, offhand comment, smart ass remark or just his two cents on whatever the topic was as he usually did.

The Rangers game was on. I watched a lot of sports with my grandpa growing up. In part, he's a big reason I got into sports because it was something to do with him and I honestly really enjoyed them, It was the first baseball game I'd watched in their house without him there. No shit talking the other team or no commenting on a good play that just happened.

I looked over at his chair (because it's where he always sat) several times. When it was empty, it was weird. He wasn't in the kitchen getting milk or some water. He wasn't in the bathroom. He hadn't gone to bed for the night. He wasn't up wandering around the house fiddling with anything. He just.... wasn't there. And at times, someone else would be sitting there. Which seemed weird because no one ever sat there except Grandpa.

Saturday was the viewing and then the service for Grandpa. Up until Saturday, I hadn't cried at all. It's not that I was trying to be tough and hold everything in; I wasn't. It had all just felt surreal to me up until Saturday morning. Even after being in my grandparents house, talking with everyone, almost everyone else crying, seeing and feeling everything I saw and felt; it just hadn't really sunk in yet. I kept thinking about it and I knew he was gone in a sense but it didn't feel real, final. Not until I was sitting on the bed trying to figure out if the Boyfriend could get his shift covered at work to go with me or not. I was sitting on the bed and we were trying to figure out what to, of we needed to take separate cars, if he could even go, etc.
I was explaining that I wanted to go to my grandparents for a bit before the viewing because a bunch of people were there already, just hanging out and spending time together. Trying to figure out if he wanted to come with me for that and only that, go to just the viewing, blah blah blah. Such simple decisions that I would normally be able to make and yet I suddenly felt so overwhelmed by making a simple decision. The Boyfriend asked me what I wanted him to do. And I felt like, right then, that everything came crashing down on me at once. It hit me what we were discussing and why we were discussing it and there it was. We were going to a viewing, to see my grandfather laying there lifeless. We were going to a service where an uncle I'd never met before was going to say a few words in honor of my grandfather because he was gone. I started sobbing then. I hate crying, honestly. It's hell on your body. It's raw and ugly. You may feel better afterward but you'll also be tired and feel horribly. Sometimes, you need to cry. And sometimes, you need to cry and to sob and to let your whole body feel it. My boyfriend just held me while I laid in our bed, tears streaming rapidly down my face, my body shaking as I sobbed. Those few minutes were so painful but felt so relieving, too.

There was more crying going on once we got to my grandparent's house. I didn't cry there. I didn't really feel anything except sadness for my grandmother right then. She looked so sad and I couldn't imagine how it must feel to lose someone you had spent 63 years of your life with.

I didn't know what to expect when we got to the viewing. I met relatives and family friends I had never met before. I got hugged by quite a few of them. "I'm so sorry, honey..." was said more than a couple times. And I didn't know what to say to that. I found out quickly that a simple nod worked fine because there's really nothing that needs to be said to that.

I didn't cry during the service until my little sister started crying. I don't know why that set me off but it did. My uncle was saying a few words and it was rather moving yet light and often times humorous. He was doing fine but he got choked up a little bit and that on top of seeing my sister, mom, aunts, grandma and other people crying just made me get teary eyed. No sobbing, just tears running down my cheeks.

Afterward, most of us went back to grandma's. We ate and talked and all just hung out.

My grandfather wasn't my first funeral, not even my first family member that passed. He was the one I was closest with. Anyone who has read my blog for long enough has read about my grandparents. I know it'll be tough getting used to him being gone. Even in this post, I realized I was still referring to it as my grandparent's home. When I was leaving on Saturday evening, I had to remind myself that grandma was the only one I had to hug and say goodbye to because he wasn't there anymore. Sunday, I was talking to another friend about him and I had to mentally stop myself from speaking about Grandpa in a sense as if he were still alive. It's all going to take some getting used to and I'm just taking it easy.

I know, I'm supposed to remember the good times I had with him. I have been. We talked and shared about some of our good memories as a family. I talked about them with my boyfriend and my best friend, too. I'm grateful that he was such a big part in my life and feel lucky that he was around so much for so long. I'm also just happy he's not suffering any longer. The last few years have been so rough, watching him get worse and worse. Alzheimer's is a terrible thing and it's hard on everyone close to that person as well. It's one of those bittersweet things where you're happy because something terrible has ended but so sad because you lost something very dear to you in the process. It's difficult. My birthday is on Wednesday, the 15th, and I'm far less interested/excited about it than I was a week ago. I can't let my life stop because of this and I won't but it's going to take a little time.

He was a good man. He was patient and caring. He rarely ever raised his voice and he never really got on to us when we were acting up. He wasn't a pushover by any means but he just had a quiet way of dealing with things. You knew what you could and couldn't get away with. He had a dry, sarcastic sense of humor which apparently just runs in the family. He worked hard. He was fun to be around, even when we just sat on the porch staring into the distance and chatting here and there. I always knew how interested he was in our lives and I never doubted how much he loved us.

I'll take the time to be sad when I feel sad and to cry when I want to cry. I'll probably always miss him and I'm sure there will be things that randomly happen that will make me think of him and make me sad. Just as there will be things that make me think of him and make me happy.
I'll always have my love for him and I'll always have all the wonderful memories of him.


Anonymous said...

I know I have stated it before, but yet again, I offer my sincerest condolences...

sarahbear said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your grandfather, and grateful that he's no longer in pain. I remember dealing with so much of what you're going through when I lost my great-grandfather. The odd feeling in the house and looking at his chair thinking about how he wouldn't ever sit in it again. I'm glad your family can be so supportive and stick together right now. You all need it.


phairhead said...

I don't have the right words....thinking of you and yr family

xoxo SMB

Another Suburban Mom said...

I am so very, very sorry for your loss. I hope that your wonderful memories will help time ease the pain.

I remember when my grandmother died, I was able to hold it together until I heard the casket lower into the ground. Then I lost it.

BTW: I am sure he was proud of you. I know that I always am.

viemoira said...

I m so sorry about your loss but glad that your grandfather is no longer suffering. It sounds like he really taught you to enjoy the little things in life.

I can relate entirely how you handled your feeling during the time of family pain- it is hard to be the rock for others; seems like you are for at least you siblings. Thay are very fortunate to have such an amazing sister.


?uestion said...

My deepest condolences. I know it's difficult to lose a loved one, but it's great that you're not letting the sadness of the situation overshadow all the great memories you have.

The best to you and your family

Jormengrund said...

I feel for you AR, I really do.

As you've probably read in my blog, I had been quite close with my grandparents as well, and I can totally relate to your felings and situation.

It isn't going to fade with time, since there are still events that bring back memories and sad pangs of loss when you recall who isn't there to enjoy the moment with you.

But just because it doesn't fade doesn't mean that acceptance for the situation doesn't happen. You just accept the fact that they are no longer there, and things will still be OK.

Take care, and best wishes!