My grandfather passed this morning.
He was my mother’s father and when she called, she was careful to make sure that I wasn’t working or with a client, so as to not have me get upset while out in public, on the job. She told me the news and we talked briefly about arrangements, the timing of the passing (just days after arriving home to be with his family one last time.) We talked about logistics, services and ashes, and babysitting for this weekend.
When we hung up the phone, I went back to working.
A bored Alex came lumbering into my room under the crushing weight of summer expectations dashed by flash floods and humidity and mud. Before he could utter his I don’t know what to do refrain, I blurted out, Memere just called and my Pepere died this morning.
His face went solemn.
Do you have any pictures of him from before he was sick?
And so I pulled out the black album of wedding proofs, the same one I flipped through last night when I came home from a family gathering where we ate lobster and swam with kids and each took turns inside to sit near him.
These are the only pictures I have of him, I told to Alex while pointing to the traditional bride/groom/grandparents pictures. Not even 4X6’s, just proofs.
Thing is, I didn’t know him very well, I explained, not like how you know Grandma and Grampa or Memere and Grampy.
He sat and looked at me, looked sad for me.
I know that he loved little kids and he loved tickling. I smiled, watching Alex’s face light up at the word tickle. I know that I used to almost pee my pants, he’d tickle so much.
Alex left. I sat and looked at the man in the picture, smiling beside me, and I tried to remember what I knew of him, my pepere, at all.
I know that on my graduation from high school, he gave me a pair of earrings.
I know that I remember this, because he did not (as a Witness) celebrate any other birthdays or holidays with us, so these, these were special.
I know that I always had to listen extra closely to understand him, the way words rushed from his mouth, often folded in laughter.
I know that he worked hard his whole life and that money was often tough.
I know that he had a sense of humor that I think, or I get a sense that it has been, passed on to my uncles and cousins.
I know that he had a hand in raising six amazing people, who have created an amazing extended family for myself and my children.
I know that he was my mother’s dad. He was my mother’s daddy.
I know that on Friday night she cried in her sleep, the ache in her heart over losing him.
And I know that the pale shell of him that I saw in my aunt’s house last night, wasn’t really him anymore at all.
Mostly, I know that this is the fourth funeral this family will have in the span of the last three years. The fourth time we will say goodbye to a body that we are all connected to, however much we remember or not. The fourth time my aunt has opened her home to let in bedraggled bodies, weeping and laughter and so, so much food.
And I know that we are all ready for the weight of this, these moments, this season of clouds and flash floods and mud, to move on and give us sunshine and rest.