Grandpa died last night in his sleep.
It’s exactly what I wanted to happen. For him to go peacefully, for him not to suffer any longer. The idea of him suffering was more than any of us could bear.
But, of course, it’s still a sad day. I’m a long way away from home, so I won’t be seeing his face again. He’ll be cremated, and buried next to Gram.
I am grateful that I saw him three times last week, that I got to eat lunch with him and put him to bed on Thursday.
More than that, I’m grateful for all the things Grandpa gave me. All the things I learned from him and learned to love because of him. Fishing, hiking, foraging berries and wild mushrooms and apples. Always bring a paper sack for gathering and always bring a snack.
It’s been a long time since Grandpa could leave the house on his own, what with losing his license and then COVID, and then the frailty that comes with making it to ninety one.
He had an amazing and full life, but I know the last seven years, between watching Gram, his wife of over sixty years deteriorate and die, to losing a son to COVID, to losing all his liberties, haven’t been easy.
“We used to say,” he told me, “when things were bad, that this will pass, things will get better. But things aren’t going to get better, we’re just going to go along like this until we die.”
That was right after Gram had to go into a nursing home because of her Alzheimer’s. It was one of the saddest things Grandpa ever said and it broke my heart because he was right. There’s no way to get past aging and death. I didn’t have anything good to say back except that I was sorry.
Grandpa was sharp until the end. His brain was the same as always. He could have a conversation as long as you yelled loud enough for him to hear. He never stopped learning. He loved to read, but only non-fiction.
“It’s silly I guess,” he said to me one time,”to keep learning at my age.”
“I don’t think it’s silly,” I replied.
It had never occurred to me that there might be a day that I would be too old to learn. Grandpa had been talking about something he had just learned from a book, how interesting it was. I hope to keep learning as long as he did.
Throughout my growing up, Grandpa was the quiet one and Gram was the star of the show, though we went on all our adventures with both of them. Grandpa was a fast hiker, so he would be way ahead on the trail, stopping and looking back to make sure we were still coming.
Grandma always walked slow with us kids, exclaiming at everything we saw.
Grandpa was the scout. He’d find the berries or the mushrooms or whatever was in season and point them out for us.
Long into his eighties Grandpa still walked two miles a day. At any family gathering you could find Grandpa out in the yard. Always foraging, observing, finding bird’s nests and agates. My sister Neala finds birds nests like he always did. And she’s pretty good at agates, too.
I’m going to miss Grandpa. It’s the end of an era for our family.
I don’t have any grandparents left. I’m not going to be sad about that, though. I’m going to be grateful I had such good ones for so long.
Sweet dreams Grandpa. Peace and Love. Say hi to Gram for me. XO