|Celebrating his 90th in great health|
I heard he was gravely ill the day we left for Ohio and I was hoping to see him one more time upon my return to California, but I was too late.
I am, as you could guess from my first sentence, a newbie at death.
But now I know. I am now part of that horrible club - Those Who Have Lost a Loved One.
Those who wish they had spent more time with the loved one before his death.
Those who Regret.
Those who wondered why they didn't and couldn't realize how much they would miss the loved one until his death.
Those who are grateful for distracting kids and general busyness.
Those who grieve.
Those who took for granted.
Those who return to the well of profound sadness in search of solace.
Those who realize that death is still horrible, even in very old age.
It didn't sink in for me until I saw him lying there in his coffin, looking slightly off-color but well enough that I could imagine he was merely taking a nap, as he often did when I visited. He wore all his usual clothes - his one and only worn suit and second-hand sueded vest with shearling trim. And later, Judah reminded me that he also wore his glasses.
Relationships are often complicated - filled with undercurrents of hurt and resentment, disappointment and abuse. But when I consider my grandfather, I feel nothing but the holy grail of unconditional love and acceptance.
Now that I'm a parent, I realize that that is the gift of loving grandparents. A parent and child are too close - too intermingled in their egos and motivations. It is too hard to parse out what is love and what is self-preservation.
But a grandparent is distant enough to be unequivocal.
Others will likely see only the inevitable passing of a very old man, but my goodness how great the hole left in the wake of such love.