Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Goodbye Grandpa

Next Sunday is Father’s Day. Usually on Father’s Day, I call my daddy and my grandpa to wish them a happy day, tell them how much I love them and chit chat for a bit. Not this year.

I sent my daddy his card already, but I won’t be sending Grandpa his. He moved, and the Post Office doesn’t deliver where he went. Even Icarus can’t fly that high.

I am sad, but I think my tears are more for my mommy and my grandma than anything else. It’s hard to be too sad about someone who had such a long and wonderful life. Last summer we all gathered together for his gigantic surprise birthday party. His next birthday is just a few weeks from now. He would have been 39. Of course, he would have been 39 10 or 20 or even 39 years ago, too.

We called him Buddy – me and Wendy and Katrina. He called us Big Buddy, Middle Buddy and Little Buddy. I was so young when that started, I don’t even remember why. He was always there, cheering you up by letting you know that if you were really lucky, someday you might be as good looking as him - Guess I haven’t been lucky enough yet;

Lending a helping hand, teaching you something new - Grandpa taught me how to change my oil in my car. I drove over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and we put the car up in the driveway. He showed me how to undo the oil plug with the container underneath so as not to get oil all over. They had a swimming pool in the backyard so there were empty old chlorine bottles lying around. We put the used oil in those and I took them home with me to take to the recycling center. They never made it to the recycling center. You can ask Daddy about that. (Hint: we have a pool too);

Giving you a heads up that the coocoo clock was going to go off soon and if you wanted to see the little blue birdie pop out of his door you better come quick - I’d run into the room and perch myself backwards on the big blue chair, eagerly peering, waiting for the door to spring and open and the little birdie to coo coo.

When we were little and Mommy and Daddy wanted grown-up time, we’d go for a nice sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Grandpa would build a beautiful fire in the fire place and roast marshmallows with us. I loved it when the whole outside of the marshmallow would get caught in a flame and come out singed black.

Even on non-marshmallow days, Grandma and Grandpa’s house always had special treats. That’s what grandparents are for! Almond Windmill cookies in the fat, old woman cookie jar. Bubble gum in the giant bubble gum machine with a stash of pennies in the little clay, bird shaped, candle-holder-turned-penny-holder next to the machine. The blue ones and the white ones were my favorites. Grandpa always made sure the bird had pennies in it, and always made sure we didn’t eat more gum than we ought.

I have so many wonderful memories, and thinking of them doesn’t make me sad. It makes me happy. And thankful.

But thinking about grandma makes me sad, – maybe that’s the wrong word, worried, upset, something like that. You see, Grandma has Alzheimer's. Grandpa was taking care of her. It’s still pretty much in the early stages, but her short term memory isn’t good. I don’t want her to have to keep re-learning what happened. To wake up in the morning and not know where he is. To think he’s just at the church counting money and then get worried when he’s not home on time. I don’t want others to have to keep telling her. I don’t want her to go through the same loss over and over again.

I don’t really know how Alzheimer’s works in regards to traumatic experiences or memories. My other grandma had it to, and it eventually did her in, but she went first. There were no really big deal things for her to need to remember like that. I know there was a point where she stopped recognizing my grandpa, introduced him as her brother – broke his heart. But then, minutes or days later, she’d remember again. In some ways, I’m glad Buddy doesn’t have to suffer through that with Grandma.

I know we have really good family who are all still around (only Alfred, Munchkinhead and I are bad and have left). Family who had already started taking care of Grandma and Grandpa; family trained to take care of others. I hope there is someone who can take care of Grandma now, without Grandpa’s help. Right now, I know everyone is taking care of each other. (At least Munchkinhead’s facebook seems to suggest it. No one’s really talking to me…)


God, thank you for Grandpa. Enjoy his company; it’s great. Don’t get offended if he bops you in the nose, that means he likes you. You have to take care of Grandma more now cuz you took away your help. And God, Grandpa’s a really good greeter. He’s got an award that’s on his fridge at home if you need recs. Maybe you could give him a job just behind St. Peter, so he can greet everyone as they come in. He’d be really good at that and it’d make him very happy. Oh, and one more thing God, tell him we love him and we miss him and we’ll see him when you’re ready.


Jeannie said...

This is beautiful, Aurelia - but they were gumballs....you should use parts of this for the booklet Tara wants to put together....love you - see you soon...

goldenrail said...

I fixed the bubble gum... oops. Guess it's hard to see what you've typed through tears and a friend trying to cheer you up by obnoxiously sticking his head in front of your laptop screen.

But I have so many more stories for Tara's booklet!

MaryRuth said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Grandpa. He sounds like a wonderful man and super Grandpa. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. These things are never easy, especially when you are far from those you love. The memories you have will be in your heart forever.
P.S. My dad worked at Louis-Allis too...in the early 60's

goldenrail said...

MR - I thought my mom had responded to you (I guess she just told me.) My grandpa was at Louis-Allis from the 50s until he retired in the 90s. Maybe my grandpa and your dad knew each other once upon a time!