the loss of an elder

My grandfather is dying. He will be gone very soon. My mother is flying to be there, and with her family, first thing tomorrow. I am staying here because I cannot afford to travel. And because my life is kind of a mess. Being broke is not really the worst, it just means I have less breathing room in some ways, and that includes plane fare and food out and a rental car or whatever.

He is my last remaining grandparent.

My grandfather was one of the first people I knew. I grew up with him until I was eight. He was very loving as a grandfather, having been a hardworking (and absentee-via-the-workplace) father. He and my grandmother were married to eachother for an epoch. They loved eachother very much although they were also alcoholic wrecks in a lot of ways. But they were MY wrecks and I love them more than I can say!

We lost my grandmother almost eleven years ago, when I was just barely a parent. At the time Ralph and I were just transitioning from a two-income no-kid life so we flew down there, down to Southern California. Would you believe it, my bosses at the time gave me a lot of grief for staying away for more than two days? I have not spent one moment regretting taking that time to be with my family while my grandmother died (one week).

I remember right after my grandmother passed, on the fourth of July, going out to breakfast with my mom, my grandpa, my husband and infant daughter… maybe one of my aunts. I was amazed to be with my grandfather when he’d only a few minutes ago become a widower. That is still a pretty intense memory.

I am the only grandchild to have given him great-grandchildren. My grandfather loved that I gave my son a Swedish name as his mother was Swedish – born there.

I am going to be thinking about my grandfather a bit and writing about him.

I can feel my husband watching me, wondering how I am feeling.

Sometimes I think my present life circumstances are so overwhelming it is amazing I am functioning, and even functioning with some grace and dignity. Yes, I am a busy woman and I work hard. But there are some things I did not ask or plan for and that I cannot control or stop happening, or even slow down.

I am starting to think that when stuff like this happens, I’m *supposed* to feel overwhelmed.

“When you can do nothing, what can you do?”


I am on the bike and it is cold, and it is dark. I am wearing my new SWEATERPANTS. They are amazing because they are a poisonous green-yellow and they are wool and so warm. From the waist-up I’m cold because that’s mostly cotton. Being cold and sweating at the same time. Ugh.

I don’t miss my volunteer work for nothing, unless I’m out of town. It is so dark and my headlamp is faint and I almost hit a curb. That would have sucked! I am cold cold cold and it feels like it’s taking me forrreeeeever to get where I’m going (it’s not, though).

I walk up the hill. I am on edge. A large dog, a goddamned HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, steps into the road ahead, a silhouette. When I pass the darkened yard he’s receded into I let out a long, surrendered breath, the fear of sharp-teeth and violent attack. But: nothing.

I pass by. Cars out with their lights and thinking of their warmth, presumably they have heaters, and I am cheered.

small stone #23
I awaken from a short sleep,
A child, singing in the bathroom.
Not my child!

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