Monday, July 12, 2010

My Grandfather Has Gone

This weekend we went to my sister's house for a barbecue to celebrate Rebecca's birthday. A small but tasteful affair, I think. As we drove home Collin called Rebecca's phone to inform us that I'd left my carry-on bag (a.k.a. "purse") at their house. We didn't turn around and get it: they handed it off to mom, who brought it to her house and would further tote it to work on Monday, at which point I'd meet her and pick it up.

In it are two Moleskine notebooks (one date book, one journal), my Kindle, my iPod Nano w/headphones, some stationery, pens, letters I'd recently received, a notebook of computer security info, and my phone. I did without all this for nearly two days. If anyone tried to reach me they would be inconvenienced, but honestly, very, very few people ever try to reach me.

Today I biked to work, fixed up some timecard hassles, did a little proofing work, then met Rebecca for lunch. Together we walked over to mom's building (from one Target HQ to the other, in downtown) and she handed me my bag. I never know what to call it: flight bag, carry-on bag, book bag, satchel... it has no definite name, though I aptly refer to it as my "portable office."

I checked my phone for messages, found a series of incoming texts, then it vibrated in my hand with an incoming call. It was my brother so I excused myself from mom and Rebecca and took the call.

He informed me that this morning, around 7:00 a.m., Grandpa Wilkie passed away. This is my father's father, formerly of Payette, Idaho. Apparently my Aunt Louise tried to call me this morning around 9:30 a.m., just over an hour after her discovery (one hour time zone difference between our towns). I spoke with Andrew about future plans for a bit, hung up and broke the news to mom and Rebecca. My emotions hadn't kicked in yet so I'm afraid I looked a bit stoic and unfeeling when I simply said, "Grandpa has died."

The first thought that appeared in my mind was that he had finally been released. His body was nearly a century old. His sight and hearing were fading, he was unable to sit up or walk around anymore, but his mind was still active. I could only imagine that he had been released from suffering. That was the only way I could see it. Mom said he was with Grandma now, and I agreed. She added they were with Jesus; I ran it through my non-denominational filter, heard "they are loved and at peace," and I agreed.

Mom hugged me, immediately moved by the news, and excused herself so Rebecca and I could be alone. I called Aunt Louise (who had just briefly spoken with Andrew) and she elaborated on how it went down this morning: she was staying up with Grandpa, dozed off around 6:30 a.m., woke abruptly at 7:00 a.m. and discovered Grandpa had passed. Is it easier for an old and exhausted soul to release when no one's looking? I've heard it's not uncommon for the dying to linger and hold on until everyone's left the room.

Rebecca took me to lunch, asked me my view of the afterlife, asked me what stood out in my memory about Grandpa, and that's when I broke down and cried. Other people use religion as a crutch to get them through the good times, but when bad times fall they crumble and question their faith. I have no orthodox religion but a very strong spirituality. There's still room to cry for missing someone, though.

I went back to work, hit up the PMs for any outlying assignments, then biked home. I'm grabbing two hours of quiet time before getting back to my densely scheduled life. It's quite likely that I'll fly out to Idaho this weekend, as well, for the funeral, despite my aunt and father both insisting no one will think less of me if I can't make it. So maybe not. That side of my family is generally pragmatic and stoic: "Keep him in your thoughts and say a prayer for him, and that's enough," they said.

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