I’ve been posting a lot lately, haven’t I? Just a warning for those of you who only come here for my exercise/fitness posts … this is totally unrelated.
My grandfather died yesterday. I’ve said that so many times in explanation for my shitty mood that the words hardly make sense anymore … my grandfather died. This is the first time in my life that a family member has died and I have no idea how to handle it. I have no idea how to offer myself the support and love that I need right now. Shit, I barely even know how to acknowledge the feelings I’ve got going on inside. I always consider myself very emotionally intelligent, but here I am completely dumbfounded by the strength of my own emotional reaction to this. So what I’m going to do is write down what I’ve got running through my head right now.
He and I shared no blood, but ever since I was seven years old and I became part of his family, he’s been the only grandfather I’ve ever had. Admittedly, he wasn’t the best at it … truth be told, I don’t think he even liked me. But I know that he loved me, if only because my dad chose to really and truly make me his daughter.
His name was Warren, but I called him Fishin’ Grandpa, because every year when I was growing up he used to take me and my cousins deep sea fishing off the coast of Santa Cruz. One year I caught a 20-pound salmon and I don’t think that anything I did for the rest of my life could have made him more proud.
He had interesting facial twiches, most notably his eyebrows would twitch enthusiastically when he got psyched up about something, when he was very interested in what you had to say, or when he was smiling. It was a trait which I’m sure was strange to me at first, but then it was just part of who he was. I think his facial expression when he smiled at me is really the only concrete visual memory I have of him.
My grandfather invented the pickle pump. You know, the pump that takes pickles from their giant pickling vats and puts them into jars. Doesn’t sound like a particularly fancy machine, but imagine how many people’s lives he made a little bit better. And see how his life has influenced yours? I always thought that was the most awesome thing … Fishin’ Grandpa invented the pickle pump.
I haven’t … hadn’t … seen Fishin’ Grandpa for five years. It’s not like I expected that I would be seeing him again momentarily, but I did think that I would see him again, you know … someday. And now I will never see him again and I’m not sure how to handle that.
I remember saying to J the other day (like maybe a year ago) that we should hurry up and get married, because I really wanted my grandparents to meet him and I was afraid that we were going to start running out of time for that. I think somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought that Fishin’ Grandpa would be so proud of me for getting married because it would be the first “normal” step I had taken. And I just really wanted him to meet J.
He loved my dad so much. And lordy, did my father love him back. And I have no idea what to do about that. I think that more than anything else, what I don’t know how to deal with is not being able to offer my dad what I think he would need or want from me right now. I mean shit, he’s in LA, 3000 miles away, so how can I go and give him a hug? How can I let him know how sorry I am for his loss, and how much I love him, when I’m this far away. Telephones and email couldn’t possibly convey how I feel right now.
I don’t know. I’m not writing this all down because I want the requisite sympathy. I just honestly don’t know what to do with myself right now. Hours go by where I think I’m fine and then all of a sudden I’m crying. I guess this is normal for the mourning process, but I have no experience with this. I’m feeling exhausted and sad and lonely and homesick and I have no idea how to handle any of those things.
I’ve got to go. My eyes are so swollen that I can barely see the screen.