My grandfather died last week. I'm not entirely sure how yet, and it was unexpected in the way that he hadn't been sick, but not unexpected in the way that he was 89. At least I think he was 89- in our family one doesn't discuss age or money. I work hard to buck that trend in my immediate family, but my grandfather was deeply entrenched in that non talking philosophy. In fact, he and I had a running joke where I sent him a happy 40th birthday card every year.
I am sad. I am sometimes surprised by how sad. I am sad for my father, who has had the misfortune of already burying his sister and his mother. I am sad that with the passing of my grandfather, my grandmother feels really gone.
My grandfather worked setting type, later owning his own of typesetting company. His obituary, written by my father, calls him "a pioneer in the development of computer typesetting." which I will have to ask him about. There is a strange genetic printing connection in my family, my father worked for Xerox- neither my father or grandfather are artists, but some times I wonder if my love of print is genetic.
My grandparents were married for 60 some years. They were both flew planes, they spent a lot of time ballroom dancing. When they updated (its all relative) their home, a log cabin (first bought as a vacation home, that had no electricity or running water. The outhouse still stands.) they made sure to include a dance floor. I always loved the image of the two of them dancing on their dance floor in their log cabin.
My grandmother died, 6 years ago, prematurely after a fight with cancer. I was with her when she passed, after somehow flying out to Colorado to see her that same day. Despite being told my by father and grandfather that things weren't so bad and I shouldn't come. I watched my grandfather- a man who would have you believe he was made of steel and leather and had rocks running through his veins, crumble. Lost. His fingers, bent with arthritis, shaking. Everything I knew to be true had been turned upside down. Now, that man, that bad ass motherfucker, who softened with age but never gave in. Still traveled, still danced- who was more free with his words of love and appreciation in his last years- is gone too.
This is a picture of my grandfather who evidently asked my father to pull over at 14,000 ft, so he could make a snowball. The fact that he wanted to, and the fact that my father actually did pull over is proof that people can change.
He has no regrets, he has said. Which I guess is all you can ask for.