Sunday, April 26, 2009

Letting the Memories In...


As I mentioned in my earlier post, I found out that my grandpa passed away as I was walking into ECCC. Let me preface things by saying that I knew my grandpa was ill, and that he had limited time. I had been to visit my grandpa and grandma the Saturday before he passed away and had spent the afternoon caring for him and talking to her about the past, present, and future.


While it wasn't a shock to get the phone call from my dad, it was still a sad moment. Jim and I had just walked off the freight elevator at the Seattle Convention Center with our good friend Brian and when I got the news. As I talked to my dad, Jim and Brian proceeded to the Hero Initiative booth in front of me. As they greeted Brian Pulido, who had the booth next door, I smacked Jim on the back to get his attention. "What??", he said a tad annoyed. "My grandpa just died" was my reply. As his facial expression changed into one of concern, I told him I needed a moment. I didn't want to get in the middle of the conversation that was underway, and I sure didn't want to share what I had just learned.


I walked out of the room to the hallway and cried for a few moments. Then I composed myself and called my dad. He was heading to the care center to be with my mom and grandma, as they needed all the love they could get at that moment. We decided that since Grandpa was gone, it wouldn't make any difference if I made the trip there- I had just been there, and my mom and grandma would need some time. I assured my dad I was just a phone call away, and wandered back in.


Brian gave me a nice hug and we decided to proceed with normal events. I helped with the booth set up and then we went to dinner. A beer had never tasted so good! It was strange to think that while I was feeling such great emptiness, the world was still turning as it always does. I thought to myself- is that how it is for everyone? I had lost my uncle to cancer a year ago, and while I was devastated, I was working a lot of hours and didn't have time to properly mourn until his funeral service. This time, I was away from home and felt at a loss for words or deeds.


Luckily while I was at the show, I was able to share with some good friends, and I was able to go on. Thank you to those of you that I talked to. I know that it was probably a bit awkward, but I really felt okay, knowing I was with you.


My poor husband really didn't know what to do, so he got Frank Cho to do a very special sketch for me. Thank you to both Frank and Jim. It isn't something Frank normally does, and I feel very lucky that he knew me enough to know that it was something I will never part with. A special word to Jim- you did just fine. You knew all about how sad I was and how important it was for me to make the trips to see my grandparents every time I visited home. You mostly just let me do what I needed to do and feel the way I needed to feel, and that is what mattered.


As I sit here, my grandpa has been in heaven for just over three weeks. I miss him, and I worry about my grandma. My grandparents were married for almost 65 years and they experienced the worst trials and tribulations that a couple can deal with, combined with the great joys of a longterm marriage filled with love and family. They always set a good Christian example to me, and I will always be grateful to them for that. I feel that my sense of morality and dignity is very much a gift that they gave me.


I have cried a moment or two, here and there, at random times since Grandpa died. Mostly it was because I was remembering something special that my grandpa had said or done. I was extraordinarily lucky in life- I had a full set of grandparents for over 42 years, and I always knew with a great certainty how much they loved me. I mostly cry because I know how privileged I was to have the relationship I did with my grandpa.


Let me pause for a moment and say a few things from the heart. If a family member gets ill, and it is hard to deal with- DON'T RUN AWAY. Suck it up and be there- even if it is horrible and painful. Also, don't be afraid to comfort those that need it. Don't let them live in a fantasy land, but use tact and be honest and true to your heart.


I say these things because I am lucky. I was able to see my grandpa in sickness and in health. I have beautiful, joyous memories of him that will long outlive the ones that are in my short term memory. He was terribly ill, and it is hard to bring dignity into a situation like that, but I am so glad I didn't run away.


Thank you to my friends and family that were so wonderful to me. I miss my grandpa, and will continue to do so the rest of my life. We had silly, fun private jokes that make me smile as I am typing this. We also had wonderful, serious talks, and moments of intense feeling. My grandpa loved me and I knew it, but I also know he went to heaven knowing how much I loved him back and that is all I can ask for.

1 comment:

JohnH985 said...

Heidi,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It's a terrible thing when you lose someone close to you. You're right about not running away when they get sick. When my Dad was sick before he died I am glad, if that's the right word but you know what I mean, that I spent the last week of his life up there in the hospital room with him, even though he never regained concsiouness during that time. It was still important being there. I was glad that my niece and nephew who were both close to my Dad were there. It may be a very sad memory, but it will be something they will never forget. I still cry sometimes over times I remember. I can be driving home from work and some vague memory will hit me and I'll remember something about my Dad and I'll tear up. I don't think a day goes by that I don't think of him still.

I'm glad you were surrounded by friends and family when you got the news. That helps.

In one of your previous posts you wonder if anyone is still coming around here...well I am. I'll keep coming here, it's strange how you feel like you can get to know someone and become friends over something like the interenet without ever even meeting them, but that's how I feel. You're a friend and I'll keep visiting as long as you keep writing.