I said goodbye to my grandpa this week.
Even last Monday night when I visited him in the hospital and a nurse bluntly told us, "This is it," I felt OK. His breaths were short rasps at that point and he couldn't open his eyes; I felt relieved that he'd soon be able to rest.
But it has been much harder than I expected to let him go. The feeling of finality and sadness wallops me at unexpected moments. I could smile and make small talk at the funeral home, but trying to focus at work today seemed nearly impossible.
I'm grateful to that nurse who openly told us that we should say our goodbyes; the doctors had been unwilling to give such a timeline.
So, I told my grandpa goodbye. I love you. Thank you for everything.
He was an honest, hardworking man. A good man, dedicated to his family. He worked two (sometimes three) jobs to support his wife and three daughters. They did household chores as a family on Saturdays and went for drives together on Sundays.
He worked for L&N railroad for 44 years, starting when he was just a teenager. He served as a machinist in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War.
He took my cousins and me camping every summer. He took us out for pancake breakfasts and old-fashioned cafeteria dinners, where his motto was, "Get what you want, but eat what you get." We had fun together, and I always knew he loved me.
He was stubborn (so stubborn!) and passed that trait along to many of us in the family. Maybe that's why he held on as long as he did.
Last Monday, as I said goodbye, I placed one hand on my grandpa's shoulder and one on my belly. My grandfather and my baby both seemed part of this world and part of another. Although they'll never meet in person, they were both there last week. I know my grandpa would have loved my son. He would have loved to hold this little boy of mine. And even though they'll never meet, I'll tell my son the stories and teach him the values that my grandpa taught my mom and my mom passed down to me.