Last night Yeshumnesh asked if I cried when my grandpa died. Actually, she asked if I would cry if Milo kept eating and eating until his stomach exploded and then he died. I tend to ignore those bizarre ‘what if’ scenarios and then she asked more seriously if I cried whey my grandpa died.
I didn’t cry.
He died in 2002 and I tried to explain that it was his time. I was sad to see him go, but he was barely hanging on. He’d grown so frail and skinny at the end. Medical complications were getting ridiculous and while I don’t remember it all, I think amputation had been discussed. That’s not something an 80-year-old man needs to go through. His death wasn’t unexpected, it was a mercy.
Then I showed Yeshumnesh some pictures.
This is how I remember my grandpa. That and the fact that he called me ‘turd.’ If I had more time I would have explained to Yeshumnesh what I wrote for my grandpa’s funeral. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything else that so perfectly captures a person. That was Grandpa, making people laugh.
While talking about him I realized none of my kids ever met him and even Abby barely got to know him. By the time she was in the picture my grandpa was already frail in body and mind. They all would have loved laughing in his kitchen. And that’s actually one of my greatest treasures—standing around in my grandpa’s kitchen with my brother and cousins and Abby, telling stories and laughing so hard.
A line I wrote nine years ago sums it up: He grew too old before I grew up, and I miss him.
This picture captures him so perfectly, I can almost smell the Old Spice.