I don’t hide my feelings often, and this time was no exception.
My Dad called me today, unexpectedly, and left an ambiguous message. The main idea was this, though: “Hey honey, I’d like a few minutes to talk, if we can.” He didn’t sound upset, but I immediately got a little panicky because he usually states his reason for calling so that I can get back to him with an idea of what’s up (which I like by the way, Dad, if you’re reading). Anyhow, sometimes just asking if you can “talk” is code in my family for, “hey… this is going to be rough…” without actually saying it outright, or it could also mean that a family member needs you to pick up something from the store, or wonders if you could return an item you borrowed. Many possible outcomes for said statement. So I called Dad back, and held my breath.
Our conversation went something like this. Saying hello, brief catch up about our weekends, talking about grocery shopping, us… kind of skirting around things… and then wham. Me asking what Dad had wanted to talk to me about. He said he had some bad news, and I immediately thought of all of my close loved ones. The ones I consider myself connected to. I did not think of the wellfare my grandfather. I’m sure you know, reader, a bit about the relationship my family has had with him since my grandma passed over four years ago, and I don’t want to go into it here, but it’s been rocky to say the least. Freaking weird to say the best. Raw emotions often spring up when I think about the situation, and that was before this phone call today.
Dad told me Grandpa died. Passed. Gone from God’s good green earth. I stood there in the kitchen holding a large pomegranate–frozen. The tiled floor felt like it was zooming in and out, going between in-focus and blurred. All of my thoughts focused on this one moment, and yet somehow on all the others before it: Being in my grandpa’s woodworking shop as a kid, watching as he used a jigsaw to create some pretty cedar hearts for me. Grandpa’s hearty laugh, “Oh ho!,” and the way his eyes would get large and gleam, as he marveled at the cleverness of a joke that someone told, or a prank gift that someone unwrapped at Christmas. That person’s surprised expression giving him such joy. I remember having him put a worm on the hook, as we fished at the pond that was snugly placed behind their home, because I could not bear to think about stabbing a worm with a hook–all the pain it might feel writhing in agony, still alive. And now, I feel like the worm. It may be a bit dramatic, but its what I feel. Because when I thought of all those positive things, I also thought about the terrible ones that have happened in recent years, simultaneously. All of the phone calls, or sit downs, Dad has had to have with me to explain the most recent strange, or even outrageously hurtful, behavior my granddad had inflicted upon us as his family. I will only say one thing about these occurrences, and that is that when they happened, we were utterly floored. It felt like a person had replaced my grandpa with an impostor–our grandpa, my Dad’s dad would never have acted that way or said such horrible things to those he loved. But indeed, he did.
And so, I rely on Grace. I stand on the only Saving Grace I can think of to save us from ourselves. I am trying to focus on that. I wonder what he was thinking when he passed–who held his hand and helped lead him forward into the, perhaps, unknown. He did not call the family to say any last words, and I can only be grateful I wasn’t there. He had lost so much weight, I would’ve lost it had I laid eyes on him and not recognized his sturdy, santa-like frame. And something in the way the events played out makes me feel a strange sense of irony: our first ultrasound for our little one… falls at the same time as his visitation and funeral. We will not be going. We will not be grieving that day. I have grieved a family somewhat lost and struggling to be found, traditions uncertainly dismissed. I have grieved an empty hole that has been nagging me since this rocked my world upside down.
Yet somehow, I presently feel I cannot grieve for the man. I feel so hardened, yet so many tears poured down my face. Troy held me as I wept, and sometimes you must weep. I do, long and hard, when it all gets the best of me. I can say I haven’t cried like that in such a long time. I do cry occasionally from day-to-day life things, but this was different. It was deep, from inside me, and I still feel hazy having cried my eyes out. The world has a glow, like you’re in the clouds, after crying like that. I am trying to accept that he was merely a sinner, like the rest of us. He merely did his best. But perhaps he had gone mad, from heartache and loss, like I feel I may do today. Perhaps he really was an “impostor” at the end. He did carry my grandmother through cancer for years. He took care of her. I cannot forget how I adored the way he showered her with time, with his daily love; attending after her needs. So I must remember a man contradicted, a man divided. In what manner should you remember a man like that?
Now, I long for peace. And as my first action to do so, I will be celebrating the family I do have, by preparing a spaghetti dinner. My Sweet Basil Spaghetti. We will warm our hearts with one another’s company, and perhaps cry. I probably will at least, who knows about anyone else.