Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Dear Grandpa,

You passed away last night, after months of languishing in a hospital bed. I think we can both agree that you are in a better place now. I am more relieved than sad. I said goodbye at Thanksgiving, and it was clear to me that you were scared and sad and that hurt my heart. You were 95 years old. 

You were never a large part of my life. I saw you only once a year, when I would make the drive to Fernie while reluctantly tearing myself away from the lake. I would visit you and grandma for an hour or so a year. It wasn't enough, but it seemed like enough at the time. For you and for me. Small talk and pleasentries. 

I always wondered why you and grandma rarely came to visit us on the coast like my other grandparents did, or drive to the lake to spend time with us, as there was always plenty of room and you were more than welcome. It was clear that both of you were uneasy outside your comfort zones, and as such, the relationship you had with your coastal living grand kids was good, but a little detached due to the fact that we just didn't know each other that well. 

This is a shame. I would have liked to have been closer. I hope that when I grow old, I will be more willing to include myself in things and be an integral part of my family's life. Even if distance is a factor. Maybe this will be easier when I am old. I am sure that I will be beamed via a hologram into the homes of my grand kids on Christmas Day and birthdays. 

Don't get me wrong. I know you loved us. And you were a product of a different time. We always got Christmas and birthday cards when I was a kid, and I always respected you and loved you. I wish that you had been willing to move here when grandma died 10 years ago. But I understand that Fernie was, and always had been, your home. But as the years passed and your friends were all gone, it must have been lonely. There is only so much your family can do from 2000 km away. It was hard on my dad. My dad who is flying out there today, 24 hrs too late to be there for you when you passed. He would have liked to have been there to say goodbye. He would have liked to have been there so you were not alone. 

The thought of dying alone is a sad thought. I hope when I go I am surrounded by family. I wished the same for you. I wish you had moved here so we could have gotten to know you better in the last decade. I think you would have been happier for it. I wish I had told you I was pregnant at thanksgiving but it was so early and I wasn't sure if you would really understand. I wish my child would have had the pleasure of meeting his or her only living great grandparent. But mostly, I wish that you passed into the next life without fear in your heart and knowing you would see your beloved Margaret again. 

So, with these thoughts, I wanted to end with some of the good things I remember about you. I remember visiting the old farm, before you moved to town. I remember the blue bathroom, with the fuzzy toilet cover that I always thought was pretty. I remember your delicious pancakes, the best and most fluffy pancakes. I remember your little cast iron sculptures and how you took up crafts after you retired - an inner creative streak! I remember how you loved huckleberries and would go picking in the mountains in all the best secret spots. I remember that one visit with James and you and grandmas served us spam (ick!) and we listened to polka records, which we thought were hilarious. And I remember the time after grandma died that you did come to the lake for an overnight stay, but wanted to go home at 6 am, your little bag packed and ready and you waiting patiently for my dad to rise. I remember reading through our family tree with you and listening to stories of my ancestors long gone. And I remember the day I said goodbye, knowing I would likely never see you again. My heart felt heavy with sadness and guilt for not being closer to you, but I was glad I was there to tell you I loved you. Goodbye. 

I hope you are happy wherever you are right now. Free and floating and surrounded by good things and people you missed. I will see you again, I'm sure. Say hi to grandma for me. 


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