2018-04-13, 11:33 p.m.
9 1/2 months ago I lost my grandfather. He wasn't the grandpa that I saw obligingly at holidays, under the direction of my mother. He was somebody I knew, somebody I spent time with throughout my 20s, and took my daughter to visit regularly. He told me stories about working on the rail road. There were lots of stories, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind.
The days following his death are amongst the hardest days of my life. The pain was physical. My chest hurt. All the time. I would just say "no" out loud, as if denying it could make it all go away. It didn't ease for a long time. My mom left town as soon as it happened to be with her siblings and my grandma, so I spent the next few days with Em and Lanny. Last spring and summer were exceptionally hot, but at some point in the days immediately following we got some rain, and I pulled the kids, in the rain, while crying. The tears didn't stop. It felt like they never would. I cried and drove for so long that it just became my normal. When it finally subsided for the most part, it was like hey... I'm not crying. A few weeks later I finally felt ready to rejoin life, and took Emma to the pool, as we sat in front of the Okotoks rec centre, eating a granola bar, all of a sudden, I was crying. And this is how it has been ever since. A little less now, but the healing is definitely not over.
I was just getting out of the shower, and was thinking about how my papa's youngest brother Areland, who died in 2003, lived with my grandparents for a while when I was about 14ish. I remember him chasing me and Lindsay around the house, making us scream. He called me Abby. We would lock him out, and he'd sneak in another door and scare us. I was thinking of how loud and annoying we probably were... and then how devastating is is that they are both gone now. And then the tears started and haven't stopped. And I realized it was time to write this post. The post I have been thinking about for nearly 9 months. The post I started writing several months ago, and didn't get more than a few lines in, before it disappeared forever.
We have now had our first Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter without Papa. And next week will our first year having Papa's birthday without Papa. April 24, he would have been 84.
The holidays will never be the same, and they will never be easy. He always used to make plates of snacks for the family before dinner. Pepperoni, cheese, crackers, sometimes nachos and salsa. I rarely got too many snacks because I am perpetually the last to arrive. Except to his grave side service. I went to the cemetery. My family all arrived together in convoy. It upsets me that I wasn't a part of that, that I didn't know. I was in my car hyperventilating.
His last Christmas was brutally cold. He brought out ALL of his music making, talking, singing Christmas decorations because Emma and Lanny would be there. He loved all of these Santas, and when my mom or aunt found an especially hilarious/obnoxious it would be pretty awesome to give to him. The one who sat in a chair and said "soak soak soak, my cold aching feet" and the one who would climb a little ladder with a string of Christmas lights to look like he was decorating.
Emma loved his voice. I remember her only being about 8 or 9 months old, sitting between me and mom and their couch, and she would look around mom when Papa would talk so she could hear him. She sometimes still asks about "Bassie's papa" I hope she doesn't forget him.
This grief thing is so surreal. It's sometimes baffling that I am living my life... progressing, doing new things, making plans, but he's gone... it just doesn't make sense sometimes. But I also know that I'm not the same as I was before. I haven't laughed as hard or felt as happy since it happened. I feel more fragile, I cry more easily and worry more. I'm sadder, just in general.
I visited him briefly at Thanksgiving, but haven't been back. I will be passing through Claresholm on the day before his birthday so maybe I should take him a little something.
But one thing I try to remember
How lucky were all of we.
We are all here because of him. I got 31 years with my Papa. He took my brother, mom and I on some of the only trips we took through my childhood. We went to Waterton in their motorhome a few times, I remember a few trips to Edmonton, specifically when I was about 4,9, 17 and 26. When I was 17, it was just the 3 of us driving home from Edmonton, it was September 2003, but it was cold and windy, and we stopped at so many RV sales lots that I couldn't even guess how many. They bought their trailer later, and he always credited me with helping them pick it out.
How lucky were all of us...
life - death