When I was a little girl, I used to love to turn the channel when Grandpa was watching his cowboy shows. He would chase me around the coffee table with a paddle when I did…but he never caught me and whipped me with it. Grandpa didn’t say a whole lot but he was always there.
I remember going with him to the flea markets, where he would buy up old knives and watches and sometimes even jewelry. He would tinker with it in his workshop and fix it up, repairing the watches and making new blades and handles for the knives. He would fix it up and take it out to sell or trade. There was something about being out in Grandpa’s workshop that felt like being home to me.
Sadly I have had a head injury and there are some memories that I do not have access to anymore. There are things that I know but cannot see in my head how I know them. I know that Grandpa bought me Spiderman and Batman comic books. I know that he loved taking me with him to the flea markets. I know that he loved me. And I can catch glimpses of memories sometimes and I cling to those.
My Grandpa was a simple man. He liked simple things. He liked to work on watches and knives. He had a garden. He liked to watch his cowboy shows and he liked to eat Post Toasties with bananas. These are prominent memories of my childhood.
I have many memories of my Grandma too but those are more conflicted and confused. And since she is still with us, I will focus on Grandpa for right now. Time to delve into the psychological trauma that is my Grandma another day.
My Grandpa was a very giving man, when he could be. He and Grandma had divorced when I was in elementary school and after that he had a really rough time of it. I remember my 13th birthday. He brought over bags and bags of jewelry that he had gotten at the “swap meet” and spread it over my mom’s living room floor. He told me to go through it and pick out anything that I wanted. And that I could have as much as I wanted. It breaks my heart that I do not have any of that jewelry any longer.
If there had ever been a time that I questioned whether or not Grandpa loved me and thought about me, this was a time that quieted those thoughts.
Years later a box was found that had pictures of my Grandma, my mom, my sister and me inside of it. When asked why he had those pictures in that box, he said “Those are my girls.” Plain and simple. No muss, no fuss. Just honest love.
There are some wounds that are so hard to close that they just never heal. In November of 2004, I lost my Grandpa. He was 87 years old. I know that there is no rationally thinking person that would believe that he would still be here today. He was an old man and he had had cancerous polyps removed from his bladder a multitude of times. He had been an old kentucky coal miner. He had worked in many different fields. I think that he worked on the rail road at one point in time, as well. He had all the health issues that went with working in those industries. He also had Crohn’s disease. He had cancer of the bladder. That being said, he was taken from us abruptly and far too soon.
Grandpa had been beaten down by life and was finally coming out of his shell. He was talking to us. Telling us his stories. Telling us about his family and growing up and the things that he lived through. Then the idea was planted into his head that we did not love him and that my mom was stealing from him and trying to take everything he had.
This was not true. This was far from the truth. He came out of one treatment at the hospital and was thrown into a rehab facility without our knowledge. Put away in a place that we did not know and we were unable to find him. We were unaware he was sick until it was too late. The facility that he had been put into, instead of helping him get better, had just left him catheterized all the time. A UTI killed my Grandpa. A fucking UTI.
He was 87 years old and had lived through a lot of hard times and a fucking UTI killed him. He was put into the hospital because of the infection. You know, we never think that it is the end and that we won’t have a chance to see someone we love again. I was planning on going to see Grandpa that weekend. Work was crazy. I had just started a job at Anthem BCBS and was in their training program. My boss’s boss came to find me and told me to call my dad. He had wanted her to give me a message but she did not feel that it was her place to give me that kind of news. I called and Dad told me, in a very inappropriate and uncaring way (Again, will deal with other family issues at another time) that my Grandpa had died and to call my mother.
I miss my Grandpa every single day of my life. I loved him greatly and I still do. There are some things that you just do not get over. You learn to deal with it and you learn to pick up the pieces and you move on with your life but you never get over it. The feeling that we should have had so much more time with my Grandpa haunts me. The feeling that my Grandma was so jealous of our relationship that she just stuck him away wherever she could and poisoned his mind against us….it eats at me. It tears at my heart in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.
I miss you Grandpa. I love you. And I will live my life and I will try to find ways to honor you….but I will never get over losing you.