My grandpa died this year, March 12th 2012. It was expected. We had said our good-byes and he had been in hospice care for 8 or nine months by this time. He was completely at peace when he left. And we his family were ready to let him go. For the past 3 years we had watched his life shrink…and it seemed that this life on earth didn’t fit him anymore. Still. There are days when I sit on the bus and make a mental list of everyone I need to write an email to in the next 24 hours. Without realizing it, I still put my grandpa on that list. Its ironic, in a way, because I know I never called or wrote him enough in the last 2 years. Just the same, keeping in touch with him is something I automatically remind myself to do….until I remember.
If it weren’t for Grandpa and his thirst for travel, his encouragement and insistence that the time and cost were always worth it – I wouldn’t be in Thailand today. When I decided to take a break from college to gain some perspective on life he promptly sent me an email: “I have no problem with you taking some time off [from school]. I do however have a problem with you taking the rest of your life off.”
After that, he never once questioned my plans. And from then until the day Grandpa died, I always knew I could share my plans with him. Ask his advice and talk about my adventures.
There’s a lot going on with my family right now. Some days I rale against God, asking why THIS year had to be the year he fulfilled my dreams, opened doors and made a way. Often being here, and by default not being there, seems being here only hurts the people I ought to help.
Then I remember Grandpa ‘s love story: He met my grandmother when she was rooming with his parents and attending nursing school in Chicago. He was in the Naval Academy, preparing to be an officer. The naval academy has a regulation: No student of the academy may be married. Therefore, even though grandpa knew he was going to marry my grandmother after only a handful of dates and letters, he waited four years. FOUR YEARS of long-distance mostly keeping in touch via letters.
I asked him if he ever considered just sneaking and getting married. “Absolutely not!” Came the gruff reply, “One of the guys did that, they found out a WEEK before graduation and stripped him of his position, dishonorably discharged him and threw him out on his backside. Of course I didn’t try to slip anything by them.”
Despite all of the waiting, and unknowns of their relationship, Grandpa once wrote that his greatest accomplishment was 48 years of marriage and three daughters.
Even when the waiting and struggles were miserable, the goal was worth it