“I’m glad you’re here, Aimee. It’s almost time. I hear Grandma calling for me.”
It was August 11th, the day after my Grandfather would have celebrated his 69th wedding anniversary with my Grandma. They never got the chance. She passed away on New Year’s Day.
I left my Grandfather’s home in tears, trying to come to grips that the end was near. I called my Dad and e-mailed my brother and sister in Afghanistan. The next week was a flurry of activity. I canceled my trip to San Francisco for a blogging conference. My father arrived from the East Coast and my sister flew in from Afghanistan for a few days so she could say goodbye. My brother, sadly, was unable to get emergency leave from the Army – something we are all still upset about. However, he wrote our Grandpa a beautiful and touching letter which we read to him. My uncle, cousins and other family members also stopped by to be with Grandpa during his final days. He was surrounded by love and the comfort of family. To die any other way is tragic, I thought to myself. This is the way it’s supposed to be. My Grandpa knew we were all there for him. He could hear our words and feel our soft touches and gentle kisses. He managed to give his great-grandson one last high-five and give him a kiss. My father caressed his forehead to soothe him, just like my grandfather did to help calm all of us when we were children. He told us he was a little scared, but ready to go. He had been preparing himself since Grandma died. She was waiting for him.
My Grandpa died on Monday, August 23rd. He was almost 91 years old.
This isn’t supposed to be a sad story and it certainly isn’t tragic. My grandparents had a good long life together and a great love story. Although I feel sad and miss them terribly, I celebrate my grandparents. They were very much a part of my upbringing and helped shape me into the person I am today. My grandparents helped instill core values into all of their grandchildren and taught us that being a good person is the most important thing in life – be loyal and loving to your spouse and family, work hard, use your potential, give back to others, and never lie, cheat, or steal to get ahead. And, perhaps most importantly, fill your home with love and laughter.
I had heard about couples in very long relationships where one would pass away shortly after the other, but I never imagined that it would happen to my grandparents. Perhaps it’s because I never imagined my life without them. But, now, here I am. Living without them. If only I could hear my Grandma laugh one more time or listen to my Grandpa talk about his beloved Dodgers (the man was a human encyclopedia of all things baseball). If only we could talk one more time about how to make the perfect Challah french toast or Matzoh Ball Soup (still working on that one). I’m glad that in the last year, I started to talk more with them about our family history and record some of our conversations on video and audio. I heard stories that I had never heard before and I feel grateful that they shared so much with me. I live with no regrets, except that I didn’t go to just one more baseball game with my Grandpa.
Life goes on and mine will, too. But I’ll miss them everyday that I keep living it.