Things to Do - A Year of Loss

june19 (31 of 48)

After a long battle with bladder cancer, Dan's grandfather passed away last week, at the age of 91. When Dan was about seven years old, his grandparents moved to a secluded area of Tennessee, so Dan didn't see them regularly while growing up. I only met Dan's grandparents three times - at our engagement party, at our wedding, and a year ago at their 60th wedding anniversary celebration. Luckily, the children road-tripped with us to their anniversary celebration, so all four generations had a chance to spend some time together. This makes me happy, as I still have vague memories of my own great grandmother, who died before I entered kindergarten.

In World War II the children's great grandfather navigated fighter planes in the Pacific. Dan has childhood memories of asking his grandfather to tell stories about that time, but he preferred not to speak about it. Finally, one day a few years ago Dan's grandfather talked about the night their instruments went out and they couldn't determine their position (his planes flew at night using the first plane-based radars). They only had so long before before running out of gas, but since they didn't know their own location they could not land. They flew through the night using the radio to ask anyone who could hear them to confirm their position, but protocol prohibited everyone else from communicating with them, since it would reveal their location. Luckily, someone eventually broke the rules. Thus allowing Dan's grandfather to live a full life - with three children, seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. So many of the blessings in my life are partially due to an anonymous soldier or sailor somewhere in the Pacific. Amazing how the world works.

I think about that story a lot. I want to believe, as I'm sure we ALL want to believe, that somehow death in your sleep at 91 is easier than meeting your end by falling through the night in your twenties. I guess that's what we have to believe in a way. But wow, it is all so short after all, isn't it?

When we told the girls about their great grandfather's death, P, of course, quickly asked "why do all my grandfathers keep dying? why does everyone keep getting cancer? I hope nothing happens to Grandpa Bob, I would miss him so much." Two dead grandfathers in a year weighs heavily, even on a five year old. But at least the one remaining grandfather loves them and spends time with them, taking joy in being an active part of our lives. And for this we are all truly blessed.

And I will spend the days wondering what other stories great grandfather had to tell us. Wishing I would have taken time to talk with him more. But I had a crawling baby and bouncy preschoolers to tend to, and, truthfully, I could never think of anything to say. It's not easy to unlock the mysteries of a life.

1 comment:

  1. This brought some tears to my eyes - really poignant and meaningful. Thanks for sharing this.



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