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.