I feel like i’ve got to write something. Anything. I heard myself say to a coworker yesterday “i feel like i’m disappearing” because i don’t really document my life anymore. I quit journaling years ago, i hardly take photos anymore except of my beer, i’ve whittled my social media posts down to what i would consider very little, and now i’ve all but quit writing my blog, too. None of this is inherently bad, but i have a horrible memory and i feel like i’m just going to forget these years altogether if i don’t at least write about what’s going on. And i don’t want that to happen, because this is my life and i want to remember it.
And i f*cking hate blog posts that open with big rambling paragraphs about how ‘i haven’t posted in way too long,’ but still i seem to begin every one of them that way these days. I’m going to quit whining and apologizing about it and i’m just going to write.
So. My grandfather died recently. That happened. And that was really goddamn difficult, to a much greater degree than i had ever anticipated. I’ve been bracing for any and all of my grandparents to die ever since i was about eight years old and one grandfather had open heart surgery and the other—the man of the hour—had a heart attack and had to go on some restricted diet to save his life. I wrote him a letter back then pleading with him to do it, believing that he would simply drop dead if he didn’t change his food. He made the change, but i still remember lying awake in my bed at night very often for a long time, crying about his impending death and my dog’s probable untimely demise and my own inevitable mortality, wishing to God that i were just a few years older like my siblings; thinking i’d somehow grow out of my fear when i hit puberty. Little did i know that almost every adult fears death, they just learn to make peace with it, or how not to think about it when the lights go out.
And so i’ve kind of always kept my grandparents at arm’s length, at least partly because i knew i’d be losing them soon anyway. I’ve tried not to hold too tightly to them, and that’s been easy because my nature is to be extremely shy. But a few months ago, my grandfather started talking like he thought he wasn’t long for this world, and so i let my attention shift a little bit from myself onto him and started trying to talk to him more. I asked him about foods he ate when he was little, and got to hear about what life was like during the Depression and the first time he ate a steak. I visited him at the hospital when he went in, and he told me about how ‘his day’ was the best of times, when everyone got married and had kids and did fine and how things will never be that good again (and i was actually sort of surprised to hear him say that, knowing that he lived through the Depression and a couple of absolutely harrowing wars). The wars didn’t affect them much here, he told me. And i visited him at the nursing home. And at the hospice. And at his funeral, the boy scouts told stories about the funny and altruistic things my grandfather did and said during his time up at camp with them, and i realized that i didn’t know him terribly well and he hardly knew me at all, but that it just didn’t matter. I loved him and he loved me and the unconditional love of a family is what life is all about, and losing that to death is just heart breaking no matter how long you brace for it or how much sense it makes to let a person’s suffering end. So i cried my eyes out. And gradually i accepted that it wasn’t lost so much as simply ended, and i started to move on with my life.
a rose for grandpa.
Seeing my sister and my nephews and my brothers during that time was kind of a salve on my wound. Amy and i took Bodhi to the zoo, and seeing his delight in all the animals and helping him eat a fruit cup and drink from a fountain were such simple but wonderful things. He’s a joy to be around most of the time—Nathan even thinks so. I’m learning how to interact with babies a little bit, but i still have no desire to have one of my own.
We went to a cabin about two hours west of Minneapolis with a group of friends late in September. It was a long drive, and the leaves were just barely starting to change color. I was amazed how green all the grass was in Minnesota when back home our lawns were just starting to recover from the dry summer. It was a large log cabin with a grassy lawn and plenty of big, comfortable furniture inside. We had a blast. We played frisbee and built puzzles and read books and enjoyed fires and ate s’mores and drank hot cider and tea out on the porch during the rain and had plenty of beer and rum and tasty food: steaks and brats and tacos and cinnamon-swirl pancakes. We went on a warm and not very spectacular hike together. Nathan and i took a blanket out under a tree that Sunday and enjoyed a Bourbon County Cherry Rye stout together to celebrate five years together. Three nights didn’t feel nearly long enough, the trip was such a welcome release after all the stress of the summer.
The burden of trying to do two jobs at work is lightening, and while there are still a couple of things causing me worry in my life, i feel like i’m starting to feel pretty content. After two and a half years in our house, we finally got the chimneys cleaned and repaired, and it’s been comforting to have a warm—REAL—fire going right in the living room of an evening. The dog contentedly chewing his bone on the floor. My handsome husband starting to doze off on the couch. A mug of tea in one hand and a good book in the other. That’s just about all i need.
That, and something to write about.