Excuse me, I’m going to get kind of mopey real quick. Its been a rough week or so, however long.
My grandfather passed away earlier this week. He was eighty six and I always saw him as the strong, silent type. I didn’t know much about him. When I was young he worked at Santa’s Village, he was a practical joker, he liked beer, and he could be stubborn. I loved my grampa, but I feel only recently he started to speak up more and express his feelings. I never needed him to. I know he loved me because… I just knew. It was an obvious feeling. His name was Omer.
My dad drove up to Groveton, New Hampshire- his hometown- when he got the news that my grandfather’s doctor’s appointment didn’t go well and the hospital wasn’t going to let him leave. My grandfather was my grandmother’s caretaker. She had three strokes and could no longer move one of her arms, couldn’t move her legs, she needed my grandfather. My father was a mess, he had so much to take care of.
I learned around Christmas eve that Omer had either lung cancer or tuberculoses and it was bad, whichever it was. When my father reached him he discovered that the infection in his lung was terrible. He wasn’t going to make it through the weekend, the way it was looking. I was told this while at a girls night at a coworkers house. I drank a cup of coffee and fled the party. I drove to Chelmsford to be with Aj. I slept restlessly.
Sunday we went home to have dinner with my mother, sister, and her lovely boyfriend Tom. We had lasagne and drank beers. I picked on Melissa unmercifully and she was a good sport about it. The comic relief. We always seemed to fall into that position. My head made me think of every other time we’ve been through this and how we all have the roles that we play, the mental position that we put ourselves in. I finished eating and did the dishes. There was rum cake and black raspberry ice cream. I skipped the cake.
Monday I went into work. At noon my mother texted me with the information that my grandfather had passed on. He was in the hospital still and got to see my grandmother once more before he did. I road out the day. Tuesday my father came home and he came with memories, stories, and hugs.
There are certain people that when they hug me, I simply can’t hold myself together. My father is one of them… Normally. I still didn’t cry. I hugged him tightly and listened to his words.
My grandfather shot a bobcat once. The story goes that my grandmother was really sweet on the neighbors little girls, she thought they were great. Since I didn’t get to make it up there often enough, they were like her imposter grand daughter’s. I think its cute. She would take them out for ice cream and make cookies in her kitchen. The little girls would cut across their yard to get to my grandparents. One evening after a day of candy making and rabbit feeding, my grampa caught a glimpse of the wild cat.
My grandfather shot the cat because he knew that said cat would go after the little girls and he knew his wife thought the world of them. He knew he loved his wife and wouldn’t let her hurt, not for anything. The newspaper did a story about him and the kill, about how it wasn’t okay and how next time he would call the officials. Such bullshit.
I always loved that story but hearing my dad tell it was my favorite way to hear it. He was much more entertaining than the new paper clipping and the smile on his face while the words left his mouth caused me to also.
Wednesday I left work early because I couldn’t think, I couldn’t concentrate. I left work early and drove to Chelmsford. On the ride I realized that I hadn’t really cried and I wondered why this was. I hadn’t stopped. From the moment I found out Omer would be passing, I ran. I got in my car and tried to do anything except think thoroughly. I started to feel guilty.
I’ve lost my memere, my pepere, my great grandfather, and my great grandmother all while I was still fairly young. A year and change I had gone through losing someone that was once a best friend. In middle school I lost a friend and on each separate occasion, I had cried nearly immediately because I didn’t have the luxury of running from the feeling, from my head.
I lost myself in the song that was on and thought about everything that wouldn’t be the same. My grandparents would never live in their trailer again. There would no longer be guns hanging on the bedroom wall. We wouldn’t visit for holidays for dinner. There wouldn’t be a puzzle in the kitchen half done. There wouldn’t be cook outs in the front yard. There wouldn’t be hidden rubber cockroaches around to scare my grandmother. There wouldn’t be any walks out in the woods. There wouldn’t be Omer and there wouldn’t be the trailer and nothing would ever be the same again.
There were the tears.
I thought about singing Jewel to a tape recorder for my gram. I remembered picking the wild strawberries in the yard. I thought about the truck my grandfather used to own. I thought about playing with the plastic food that they kept around for the youngsters. I thought about all of the dolls, the cuckoo clock, the bird wall clock, the garage filled with old oil cans, the wood stove, the intriguing tool shed in the backyard, the wild bunnies. I thought about all of the sleepless nights I had in their kitchen, in a sleeping bag, listening to the noises of the main road out front. Sometimes when a truck went by it would cause the trailer to tremble.
I thought about how for years I thought that Omer was just a quiet, stubborn man, set in his ways. And he was, of course, as we all are. But he loved my grandmother endlessly, relentlessly and he did everything he did for that reason. The more obvious this became to me, the more I couldn’t help but cry. He worked himself down to nothing for the sake of keeping my grandmother at home and not in a nursing home. He worked himself until he was whittled down to nothingness. Nothing but love and terribly strong devotion.
I didn’t feel guilty anymore. I felt cleansed, washed by my own tears. They wouldn’t stop. Nothing I did would stop them. I tried singing, I tried smoking a cigarette, I tried thinking of absolutely anything else. Nothing. Fucking. Worked.
Then, like every time before, I recognized the familiar feeling- this heavy, disgusting cloak of “nothing is fair”. My mind reeled. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. There is nothing more I hate than this dark, honest cloak because there is no fixing it. There’s no fixing it because its just the way it is. People live and people die and things just. Change.
I should end this here. I don’t have a proper ending, an even way to pull the strings together and tie the knot. So this will have to do.
Over and out.