My grandfather passed away last night. He’s not the one who helped raise me, it was the grandfather on my dad’s side. I spent a lot of summers at his house, helping out in my grandmother’s nursery (this is where my love of plants and gardening comes from). I have many fond memories of my grandfather. He’s been battling cancer and his death was one we’ve all been preparing for. Last night, my dad called to give me the news. He’d passed. After I hung up, I sat there and thought about things… and the tears just started flowing. I loved my grandfather. He will be missed.
However…I’m feeling a bit of guilt.
He and I didn’t always get along. He was a very blunt, very honest man. If he thought you needed to lose weight, he’d call you fat. Didn’t matter if there were other people around, or if the timing of his comments weren’t appropriate… he’d speak his mind when and where he wanted to. There were many moments in those awkward growing up years where Grandpa hurt my feelings. But all of that aside, grandpa was always there for me when I needed him.
The last couple of times that I saw him, he didn’t really remember me much. He had an oxygen tank that he had to carry with him. I think the reason I’m so upset about this is that the last time he and I talked… when he wasn’t sick… the last time we were together privately…the last thing I said was “Fuck You.”
I can feel it – your eyebrows just went up. I know – it’s not like me to be so disrespectful. it was maybe 5 years ago… After Ben died. Grandpa was angry with me for putting the family through everything. I had just started working at Microsoft and had called him to invite him out to dinner – my treat – and to share the news of my new job and just generally catch up. He told me no. He said that I wasn’t his granddaughter anymore. He said that I was too fat, too ugly, and not worth it. That I’d let the family down, that I’d let Ben down. That the grief that I’d caused everyone for my own selfishness was more than he could take. That I deserved to go to hell for bringing Ben into the world. I was furious. And shocked. I managed to get a “Fuck you.” out before he hung up on me.
The contrast that life throws at us at times is interesting. If I compare that last encounter to the fond memories I have of him and my summers as a child… they are DRAMATICALLY different. Polar opposites. And I don’t regret what I said that day. He had no right to say even HALF of the things he said. What I do regret however, is not circling back when I had the time. Not trying to push past his anger and his grief to the grandpa that I loved. Not getting the chance to really show him that he had every reason to be proud of who I am and who I have become.
I’ll never get to hear his version of the first time he saw me as a baby. I’ll never again get to taste his cooking, or watch him sketch, or talk about cars or trucks or gardens. I think I’d convinced myself that there was still plenty of time to come back and repair what had been broken. I’m sad today. There is a lesson here, it’s staring me in the face. I’ve learned it. Love your loved ones. Always. Make sure to hug them and tell them you care when they’re here.. because tomorrow, they might not be.
Hope you all are well Neverland. Much love to you.