Death and Dying

I went to an all-girls Catholic high school.  Our senior year religion class we had the option to take one of two classes; Death and Dying or Prayer.  Rumor had it that in the Death and Dying Class you went to a morgue, in the Prayer class you studied different types of prayer and practiced them.  Because our school was on a campus with orchards and vineyards, I opted for the Prayer class and spent the hour under large trees talking with friends-far away from the watchful eye of our wheel chair bound teacher, Sr. Charlene.  Thankfully, her wheelchair couldn’t go in the grass-we’d always hide in the grass and pretend not to see her.

My grandfather died today.  Me and all of this other grand children called him Pop Pop.  I can’t say that I’m feeling anything at this point.  I’m sad for my father-I can’t imagine losing a parent.  I’m sad for his new wife-he was her second husband.  I’m sad for my sister who’s grown closer to him over the passed year.  It sounds cruel but I’m ambivalent.

When I think of grandfathers I think of sweet old men who spoil you with sweets.  I think of conversations about the “old days” and advice for the future.  I think of someone you can confide in, someone who’s there for you-quick with something witty to say or a $20 bill “just because.”  This is what I hear Grandfathers do-from friends.   The grandfather I knew did nothing of the sort.  He lived in Jersey and I lived in Ohio so we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together growing up.  Still, I didn’t get cards or phone calls from him on my birthday.  Only Christmas-because we’d call first.

When I think about it, I don’t know very much about him at all.  That is what saddens me-the not knowing and the fact that I will never know.  As I grow older myself I’ve come to the realization that the family that I’ve always known seems to be slipping away in death.


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