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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Miss You

It has been three years since I received the call that changed our family. When the phone rang, I knew something was wrong.

My parents had been "Up North" at the cabin, turning the water off and shutting things down for the winter. It had been a nice weekend, the leaves were beautiful and it was quite cool outside.

When they returned home, my dad RP had received a call from his sister S. She had not heard from their father RM in a few days, and that wasn't like him.

Grandpa and I at my first birthday.

Let me go back a little bit and remember. It still hurts, yet it helps me deal with everything.

That same year my grandfather had recently improved his relationship with his daughter S, and even his son (my dad) RP. Things had been a bit strained between RM and S, but with some work and softening of hearts, that tension dissolved. We were all very thankful for that.

RM with my dad RP.

In July, J and I went to Michigan to visit my parents. Our family reunion was in a couple days, and we were having it in Canada. My mom LG, met J and I at the airport and then from there we drove to the tiny town where my dad RP and grandpa RM were getting things ready.

That week will be one I cherish for a long time. Not only did we have a nice family reunion, but J and I along with my parents were able to spend a week with my grandpa fishing, cooking and having a great time in the countryside.

At the end of the week J, my mom and I were driving back in one vehicle to my parent's house, and my dad was taking his father back to his own home. I called my grandfather from my cell phone to tell him what a good time I had and that I loved him very much, since we wouldn't see him again before we left for our flight back to Texas.

It was then when he told me, "J is one hell of a guy", and that he's a keeper. He also said how much he enjoyed spending time with us and that he loved me. Coming from my grandfather, that meant a lot. The first time he actually met J was at our wedding, so to have his "approval" and to know that he genuinely liked J filled me with pride. It would be the last time I would speak with him.

That was in July of 2005.

Another one of our family reunions held at Niagara Falls in Canada.
This was possibly in 2000 or 2001.

J and I had returned home from our trip, and things were getting back to normal. Work and life progressed. Speed up almost three months to October 2005, when my parents had returned from their trip "Up North". They had gone back to work Monday, then my dad talked to his sister. It was probably on Tuesday the 4th when they realized neither of them had gotten any messages from you (RM / Grandpa) either. S tried to call you over the weekend, but never got an answer or a call back. I think at that moment, both my dad and S knew something was wrong. Deep down they knew, but didn't want to say it. My parents drove over to your house that evening.

They tried calling, in case you had been sleeping, knocked on the door thinking maybe you had gotten hurt and couldn't reach the phone. Then with their spare key, they opened the door.

At that moment they knew.

You were gone.

You went to bed on Friday or Saturday night and never woke back up. They think you probably had a heart attack in your sleep. Like your mom did. Falling asleep in her chair, with a cup of tea beside her. Peaceful and undisturbed.

Your son (my dad) found you. It still hurts a great deal to think about that. He had to see you 3 or 4 days after you died. I can't imagine the pain he went through finding you like that, yet I'm so thankful you were at peace. No longer sad, or lonely (since your dog had been taken away by your callous ex-wife). Grandpa, my dad said you were laying there just as if you were asleep. There was no pained expression, no disturbance with your bed covers, and you were still in your pajamas.

My dad called the police and stayed there with my mom for an hour or two while they checked your medications and other things around the house. The police wanted to make sure nothing was out of place, and that no one had tampered with anything. Especially your medicine. Everything seemed fine, so they proceeded with paperwork and anything else that needed to be done.

I remember that phone call. How could I forget? It wasn't extremely late, but it was probably around 8:30 or 9:30 pm. Since my parent's don't typically call me at that time of day, I had a sinking feeling. It was then when my mom told me what happened, and then I talked to my dad.

That may have been one of the most difficult conversations I ever had with my father.

I tried to remain calm when I spoke to him. I remember that I managed to say, "I'm so sorry Daddy." He started to talk, and then got choked up and we both cried. Once we regained the ability to talk, we finished and told each other "I love you". I can't really recall what else was said, and I guess that isn't important. I just knew my dad was hurting and I couldn't do much of anything to help.

I hung up the phone and J held me. I couldn't shake the thought of my dad having to see you, his own father in that state. The rest of that week was a bit blurry, and by that Friday I had started to keep myself busy to avoid thinking about you.

That's not the best way to deal with things, and I later found that out.

The memorial service was in Michigan on Wednesday, October 12th. Because of work and the price of a flight, J had to stay home. That was difficult for both of us. He wanted to be there for me, but at that time it wasn't feasible. That day during the memorial, we saw some pictures in a slide show that I had never seen before. It was really quite nice. Because of the state you had been found in, we decided that cremation was the best option.

We still represented you well. Your picture above was placed on a chair along with your jacket from Monterrey where you had worked for so many years. Along with that was one of your hunting hats, a few Pheasant tail feathers, and your well worn boots. These things represented your life, reminding all of us who you were and what you loved.

One moment I won't forget, was seeing my dad's face when a group of his employees walked in to pay their respects. I think that really caught him off guard, but it meant a lot. Most of them had never met you, but knew how loved you were. I even recall Virginia and John A. showing up. They were your very close friends. Just like family. The surprising thing was that Virginia had surgery the day before to remove a potentially cancerous spot on her nose. We could see that she was in pain, yet she still came. The outpouring of love and sympathy for you and all of the family was more than we could have ever anticipated. It was touching, and very much appreciated.

After the memorial, all the family went to the grave site. I remember it was extremely cold out, but that's not why we were numb. When it came time to bury you, our minister said some words and a prayer. I thought I had already cried all my tears and didn't have any left. I was wrong. Since I hadn't allowed myself to properly grieve by keeping myself busy the week before, it all came out then and there.

I think for me it was realizing the finality of things. I wasn't able to see you and say goodbye. I just sobbed and leaned on my mom's shoulder. The funeral home director then asked if any of us would like to stay while he placed your urn in it's final place. I was frozen in place. I didn't know what to do. A few people walked away, they had said their goodbyes. Part of me wanted to stay, and part of me didn't. My parents and my aunt S asked if I wanted to stay. I just cried and said "I don't know." That was the truth. I really didn't know.

I am glad that I stayed. It was hard, but I do think it helped. It gave me some sense of closure, even if I wasn't able to see you in a physical state. I was still able to say goodbye.

Later my aunt S thanked me. She wasn't sure if she wanted to stay and watch either, but was glad I decided to. It ended up being what we needed to do, even if we didn't realize it at the time.

That day we laughed, cried, and enjoyed remembering all the good times we had with you. Our father, grandfather, and friend.

My sister C and I with our grandfather RM at my wedding.

This was taken just after we showed you the rings our dad had given us. They had been his mother's, to pass on to us. I remember, at first you didn't realize what we were showing to you. When we said they were Grandma's rings you got a bit misty-eyed and then smiled. We all hugged, and took a slightly teary picture.

Both rings are beautiful and cherished. Just like our grandmother. My sister's ring has two pearls, one white and one black. My ring is a blue Star Sapphire with a small accent diamond on the side. Something old, and something blue. Perfect for my wedding. The "something old" was one of grandmother A's handkerchiefs that my aunt S gave to me, and I pinned it to the stems of my Calla Lily bouquet.

Every once in a while I still struggle, but it gets better. You will forever be in our hearts and minds.

I love and miss you Grandpa.

Grandpa RM and Grandma A.
Together again.

*Some of the details above may be a bit fuzzy. I will need to correct them if that is the case.

6 thoughtful comments:

glee said...

What a stunning tribute! I'm so glad you were able to know RM. He always adored you and C, and cherished any attention he received from either of you. I wish you had known your grandmother A, too. She was a beautiful woman.

Thanks for taking time to put this together. I know it will be precious to everyone who knew him.

Hol and J said...

Thank you Aunt G.
I love you!

Linzi said...

What a sweet tribute to your grandpa. It was very well-written and brought tears to my eyes.

Hol and J said...

Thank you Linzi. I really appreciate your comment. Hope you, K, and Miss. T are doing well. She's such a cutie!

Ann(ie) said...

This is a beautiful beautiful tribute my friend. Brings a tear to my eye, too. xo.

Hol and J said...

Thank you Annie. You are always so sweet, and manage to bring a smile to my face whenever I visit. xox

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