Thursday, October 13, 2005


The reason I had to condense my visit to New York was that I had to fly to Maine for my grandfather's funeral. Grampy passed away on October 5, after being sick for the better part of this year. He was 89.

We had managed to visit Grampy this summer when we heard that he was declining. We discovered that he wasn't faring well at all physically, and every now and again was prone to some bouts of dementia, but by and large he was still with it. He was cranky about the fact that he could no longer do what he pleased or eat what he wanted, but he knew who we all were and seemed to grasp his situation. In the past few weeks he hasn't been as aware. Like Pop-Pop earlier this year, Grampy passed away at precisely the point when we knew that any kind of "recovery" would only prolong any suffering or indignity.

Also like Pop-Pop, Grampy made for good stories. This was a man who waxed rhapsodic about an apple pie that he had in 1939. When he was 80 years old and 100 pounds overweight, he would jump over the side of his houseboat into the water to work on any engine trouble that might occur. He was incredibly literate, and could recall just about every classic novel he'd ever read. He once was buried alive during a construction project, and was interviewed by the local news after he was freed. The newsperson asked him what he thinking while he awaited rescue, probably anticipating some maudlin soundbite about Grampy's love for his family or his faith. Grampy instead responded, "Well, I was thinking about getting out, you damn fool."

Grampy and Grammy were married to each other for 64 years. I'm lucky in that I was able to know him for so long, and talk with him about books and history and how things were when he was a boy (he often started stories with the phrase, "When I was as big as you..."). I'm not so lucky in that I have lost two grandparents in one year, but I suppose that if you approach 24 years of age with three surviving elderly grandparents, you should consider yourself blessed.