What I’ve learned from loss and all the other unpleasantness in life

     

Your tour has ended grampa, thank you, God bless and rest easy

Your tour has ended grampa, thank you, God bless and rest easy

 

 It would be safe to say 2014 hasn’t been a banner year for me. Between the on going circus of my medical condition, the unexpected loss of my uncle, my grandfather’s passing just 6 weeks prior to my hysterectomy , to say 2014 hasn’t been stellar is an understatement. However, I’m not going to write this year off. Why? Because the remainder of the year has untapped potential, even if it is mediocre at best, it is still potential to be not quite as shitty.

 

    After losing grampa I realized how much time and energy I wasted bracing myself for the inevitable. I knew his health was on the decline and I invested way too much energy in trying to soften the blow instead of spending quality time with him, no matter how painful it might have been for me to see him as he was. It was hard for me to see him all cooped up in the house dependent on his oxygen lasso. Before, even though his health was like a roller coaster, on his good days he was busy doing things he damn well shouldn’t have been like chopping down enormous trees, climbing ladders and gardening in blistering summer heat. Towards the end he seemed so sad sitting in his recliner with his oxygen, struggling to use his walker to go across the room, and I knew it frustrated and depressed him because that was not who he was. Although he was a shadow of who he had been he was still my grampa, but I distanced myself as I had before my grammy died 20 years ago. This defense mechanism I employed only made it more difficult after he passed. I had been mourning grampa while he was still alive, and I feel like he had been doing the same. There was a glimmer of happiness when I brought my kids over, and even though he still had his mind, his body was failing him. 

 

The original "look"

               The original “look”

          By distancing myself emotionally from my grandparents towards the end I now feel like I’m on a scavenger hunt to find the pieces that I missed. The questions I should have asked, the stories I could have heard, maybe even pictures I’ve never seen. Somehow the evidence of what once was feels like the only way for me to find closure in their passing because I know what is – the emptiness, regret of not doing enough – is leaving me stagnant. I’m working on accepting that I can be whole again, even without a piece of my history right beside me. I don’t want to keep wasting time looking for something that isn’t there and be able to move on.

       

        You can’t, and you won’t , always win but what you can do it continue. Continuing doesn’t mean you love or grieve any less. For me continuing means learning to build a stronger foundation for my life and knowing that I am stronger than I give my self credit for. While he was my grampa, it was his life. Just because he is no longer physically here doesn’t mean I can’t hold on to our memories. His life was not mine to keep, when you truly ;love someone you have to be able to let them go. He lived 91 years and had a lot of accomplishments, with the army he arrived at Pearl Harbor right after the bombing and continued the fight over in Japan, he came back home got married and started a family and a building business that was well respected in the community. He was the right hand man for the Kennedy’s and helped modify the compound in Hyannisport after Joe Sr had his stroke. He saw and did a lot of great things. Towards the end he wasn’t living life on his terms, and it is unfair to have expected him to continue on. His death freed him of his suffering that had plagued him for so long. I am grateful that he retained his memory, he got to see me get married and have children and my brother graduate college and start his career. Allowing myself to let him go in death will enable my memories to keep him alive in spirit. That may be the best way to heal the soul.

My grampa kicks ass

My grampa kicks ass

 

Tenho saudades tuas

 

~ Birdie

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2 thoughts on “What I’ve learned from loss and all the other unpleasantness in life

  1. Hello my friend,
    Your grampa did kick ass and so much more. He kept fighting until the end, we all know it comes yet it always comes to fast for loved ones. My gramps lived to the young age of 92, like your grampa, if he could get outside he was doing things he shouldn’t. That’s who he was at the core. What I respect so much about that generation is they always found away, there wasn’t an option. My gramps served in the Army and went to protect Panama after Pearl Harbor. After he left for Europe, the memories were locked away. We didn’t talk about, I didn’t ask. Sometimes I would pull down the box with all of his military papers in, like the holiday menus printed on napkins, the huge treat of the evening was cigars. We can’t image what they went through and they protected us from the pain. I learned so much after his death. The questions are there no matter if you spent every minute or you think not enough. I took care of both of my grandparents until their death. It was difficult at times, many times yet there wasn’t any other way. That was the way our families had always taken care of the elders. My grandparents raised me so I had the blessing of extra time some don’t have. My gramps died in 2010 and even though my heart is healing, as I write this tears come to my eyes. Not just for my gramps, for you and your grampa. I know the kind of love and know how hard it is to see the decline. I was there until the last hour and I still have so many things I wished I asked, knew, did with…you name it. My gramps was my hero. Sounds like your grampa was yours as well. I love both photos, they show a man full of jest and a life well lived. What a blessing to live 91 years. My gramps didn’t like the attention on him so I never told him I planned on a military funeral. If you don’t ask they can’t say no. I’m in Texas and Fort Hood is a large base where you ship out from. Many men and women from Ft. Hood lost there lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was told since they were so short handed, the area covered was reduced to 50 miles. I understood and didn’t expect anyone to show. Imagine my surprise when three people showed, two who folded the flag like it was for there loved one, so much respect for my gramps and what our flag stands for. The third played Taps, that pushed me over the edge I was already over. I can’t tell you how happy I was my gramps received the beautiful send off he received. There is a tremendous respect in the military for those who came before them. Like a good family. The photo of your grampa’s service looks beautiful, the respect of his military peers must have warmed your heart. The photo is one to cherish. I still have so many questions I would like to ask, one more gin rummy game to play, one more afternoon spent talking about old memories. I don’t think we can get enough. What is does remind us, is to look around at the people in out life and live in the moment with them. Make the most of what we have now. None of us know when we’ll be called home. I’m thinking of you and praying for a bright future. Hugs. 🙂

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