Monday, January 14, 2013

a goodbye

I said goodbye to my grandpa this week.

I thought I was ready. I knew it was his time. He'd been suffering from dementia for years and the physical effects left him unable to walk, talk, or eat without a feeding tube. It felt like he'd been leaving us for years and was just waiting for his body to finally let him go.

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.


  1. ♥ I hope you keep his memory alive with stories to your son. I always tell my girls about my grandma who took my sister and I to Scotland, gave us lessons on manners, taught us to drink tea like a lady.

  2. Oh, I am so sorry for your loss but grateful that you had such a wonderful relationship. I lost my grandmother in a similar manner (she had been failing, we had time to say goodbye), when I was pregnant with my youngest. I think what got to me the most is that she would never meet my baby. It's so hard.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to someone so important in your life.

  4. Such beautiful words and memories about such a big loss. He sounds like a very special grandfather who was so involved with the children - you'll treasure the memories forever.

    My husband died two years ago and my children lost their father - three days earlier we'd heard that we were going to be grandparents for the first time ever. He would have been the kind of grandfather your dad was.

    Take heart in knowing that I show my little granddaughter photographs of her oupa (grandfather) and she can name him in photographs.

    He and your grandfather will never be forgotten.
    We never seem 'ready' to lose those we love.

  5. What wonderful memories you have. Loss of a loved one is so hard, and it does get easier. I miss my grandma even now and it has been over 15 years. Someday you will be able to take those memories out and be able look at them with a smile on your face. Hugs and Prayers to you

  6. I am so sorry for your loss! I lost my Grandfather over a year ago and I can honestly say I thought I was ready too, but when it came down to it realized I wasn't.
    It sounds like a true treasure of a man left us, but left you will amazing stories to tell your son. Sending you love and healing, my friend.

  7. So sorry to hear of your loss Allison. Be ever so grateful that you had such a wonderful, beautiful person as your grandfather. You were truly blessed to have him. Just pass on your memories of him to your baby and your grandfather will watch over you and the baby always.


  8. Oh, I'm so sorry. It's never easy to say good-bye, even when you know it's time. I lost my 93-year-old grandma at this time last year, and it was hard. It sounds like you have many wonderful memories to treasure.

  9. so heartfelt. i love that you shared that moment with your grandpa and your son in belly, then shared it with us. so tender. sniff.

  10. Thank you for your heartfelt memories. I know he'll be sorely missed, and it's completely normal to suddenly feel blue at work, at the grocery store, wherever, but the wonderful memories will be with you everywhere, always.

  11. I am so very sorry about your grandpa. You have such wonderful memories of him xx Big hugs to you.

  12. I'm so sorry for your loss. I found this blog post very moving - of course you will miss him. Keep holding on to those wonderful memories of yours. x

  13. I'm so sorry for you. :( I agree, it never is easy; sudden or drawn out. I lost both my grandmothers in 1999 - one to a heart attack in February and the other to pancreatic cancer in October. She was diagnosed with cancer the year prior, so we were only preparing for her leaving. But when my other grandmother suddenly died first, it was a HUGE shock; and a rough year. :-\ I think it does help to at least get to say good-bye. :(

    HUGS to you!! Keep telling stories so your memories don't fade; it really does help keep them fresh & alive. :)

  14. I'm so sorry for your loss, Allison.

    I never met my one Grandfather but I always *felt* like I did. I heard so many stories of other's memories that I felt they were my memories too. Plus people would often tell me how I reminded them of him, so it made me feel like he was inside me. I hope your son will 'know' his great-grandfather this way, too.

    Wishing you a lot of strength through this difficult time.

  15. Hugs. When you're an adult, losing a beloved one is way harder b/c we understand so much more. I think the best thing is to keepmhis memory alive by having pictures of him in your house and to honor him in some way time to time when you're missing him lots. I light up a candle in my aunt's favorite scent when I'm thinking of her and feeling melancholy.


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