I was cleaning out my email contacts today, and I came across my grandfather. Which in itself isn’t unusual, I guess, except that he died earlier this year.
My grandpa Jack was born in Canada and lived there most of his life. He married my grandmother there, started his family there, retired there, and died there, in a nursing home, by himself.
I remember the day I learned he died. I was at work. My stepfather IM’med the information to me over MSN Messenger. My grandpa had passed away overnight after being in the hospital for a week. None of this I knew.
Tears were copious and instantaneous.
I left work and I went down to the waterfront. I sat there for hours. I talked to the sky, I pretended it was him. I told him how I was starting to do some interior design work, just like him, and wasn’t he proud? About how big the Kid is getting, how much he resembles me, how bitterly I regret that the Kid didn’t ever spend enough time with him. How sorry I was that I wasn’t there to say goodbye to him, and how deeply I regret all the times I could have packed the Kid up into the car and driven the three hours plus border crossing to go visit, and I didn’t. I apologized to him that he died alone, without his family being there, without anyone to hold his hand and tell him that it was okay, that the pain would end, and that he could rest.
I don’t know if he heard me. I hope he did.
I hope my grandma was there waiting for him, and that he found peace from his smoking addiction and alcoholic tendencies, and high blood pressure and cholesterol, and bitter loneliness. I hope he found whatever it was that he expected or hoped to find.
As I am cleaning out my inbox, and I see his name in tiny print on the screen, I wonder why I never used it, just to say hi, just to send a picture, just to let him know I cared.
Now, of course, it’s too late and I feel like I need to junk it. Every time I see it I’ll cry. I can’t have that.
I can’t have another chance, either, but I can perhaps do better with the family relationships I have now.
I think I shall try.