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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back in the Saddle

It's strange how only a few days away can completely break your routine. Annoying, that. No, it's not that I mind change very much--and I'm a big fan of spontenaity--I just don't like the "return to the real world" part. You know, you muddle through a normal day, climb into bed, and then smack yourself in the forehead, saying, "Crap! I meant to do Task X (e.g., blog) today!" Is this just me? Having to retrain yourself to successfully check off all the boxes you want to after your routine is interrupted?

I'm getting my act back together now, though, pulling the pieces of daily life back into place. For what it's worth, anyway. I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized that in two and a half weeks, Spike and I will be on our way north to Kansas. Wow. Talk about a real routine breaker!

Anyway, what I really want to do in this post is thank you all for your sympathy and prayers regarding the death of my grandfather. My trip to North Carolina last week for the funeral was a quick one, but I'm so glad I was able to be present.

I'm lucky. I haven't had to attend many funerals in my life, and I have yet to lose someone whose absence truly leaves an aching rift. In all honesty, my grandfather and I were not close. Although my brother and I grew up only 15 minutes away from my father's parents and visited them nearly every Sunday afternoon when we were young, we never got a sense for who they were. As a child, I don't believe I had an in-depth conversation with either of them, and once I became old enough to do so, declining illness had intervened and made such a thing practically impossible.

I know my paternal grandparents were fond of my brother and me; I remember their smiles, and their hugs at holidays. I know from my dad's stories and from the values and character that have shaped his life that my grandparents were admirable people. They just weren't terribly demonstrative, and they weren't the type, I suppose, to reach out. I remember my mother telling me that "it's just their way" in response to my disappointment that my grandmother and grandfather declined to attend my high school graduation.

From my current vantage point, it's evident to me that my grandparents' insular lives were a result of declining health, mounting familial issues (the word "drama" would be appropriate, to say the very least), and a lack of mobility and finances. I wish I had understood that at a younger age. I'm not proud to admit it, but for years I felt borderline resentment toward my grandmother and grandfather for what I saw as their lack of interest and involvement. Now, I grieve for them because I know they worked extremely hard their entire lives, only to have their peace, finances, and retirement leached away from them through regrettable circumstances.

Well, enough vague references. Let sleeping dogs lie. You can't change the past, and all that. While I rationally agree with these platitudes, I still mourn the grandfather I didn't really know--and I can't help feeling grief for the relationship I might have had with him, and for the peaceful final years he wasn't able to have.

The funeral service and burial were well-done. It's true that those rituals are entirely for the living, and I think that the positive aspect of this one was that it brought together relatives who hadn't seen each other in awhile for no good reason, and prompted those "let's make a more concerted effort to be in each others' lives" conversations. I hope those good intentions firm up into definite actions.

The burial itself was done with military rites. Eight gentlemen from the American Legion fired a salute (such a desolate sound), and two young men from the National Guard folded the flag. My grandfather was one a rapidly dwindling number of WWII veterans.

Well, onward and upward. But I am reminded anew of the importance of family, of stories, of connections, and of memories. And especially of how important it is to cherish them now, instead of regretting not doing so after it's too late.


  1. I feel the same way about my paternal grandparents, Meg. They've always been a part of our lives, but I know virtually nothing about them as people... and not for lack of trying. Good luck on your upcoming move and getting back into your routine!

  2. Thank you! I suppose there's a silver lining to every cloud--I'm sure that you, like me, appreciate your maternal grandparents that much more.