He Died A Hero

This is the sort of post that requires music but what to play is something that is beyond me, or so it feels. I sit here in my chair fighting to come up with the write words to share about my grandfather. I sit here in my chair and try to make sense of something that seems impossible- grandpa is gone. Though I always knew that one day this would happen I find myself wondering if maybe this was just a dream.  Until today there had never been a time where I didn’t have grandparents to visit and talk to.

My grandparents were a constant force in my life and now they are all gone. Every…single…one has died and I find that the world is a little bit darker than it was. I shouldn’t be surprised. I have been down this path before.  This is not the first time that I have sat at the computer and reminisced about a grandparent. It is not the first time that I have shared some thoughts about talking with the children about death, but I hope that it is the last time for a while.

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I feel numb. I am in a place that exists somewhere between sadness and ambivalence. My grandfathers were my heroes. Two amazing characters who couldn’t have been more alike or more different. Such a contradiction but one that is filled with so much love. And now I find myself trying to figure out what sort of words I intend to share at the funeral. Now I sit here lost in thought and memory trying to find the write words to write about him. Chances are I will speak off the cuff. Chances are that I’ll share a few words and hope that I don’t sound silly. And no matter what I say afterwards I’ll kick myself for not sharing XYZ or for not talking about PDQ.

It is not a tragedy when a 97.5 year old man dies of natural causes . That doesn’t mean that we can’t be sad because I am. I am sad for a million different reasons but the biggest one is that my children won’t ever know grandpa the way that I did. They’ll hear stories about him and grandma. When they get older they’ll have a better appreciation for how incredible it is to be married for 75 years but they won’t know it in the same way that I do.

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One of my strongest memories of my grandparents is of them dancing. I close my eyes and I can see them gliding across the floor together. I close my eyes and hear grandma tell the 13 year-old version of me that if I learn how to dance as well as grandpa I will never lack for a date. I close my eyes and see them in their nineties sitting next to each other in matching recliners. They are both fast asleep but they are holding hands. I close my eyes and hear my grandfather tell me about happy grandma has made him. I hear people asking grandma what their secret is. She laughs, shakes her head and says she doesn’t know. She says that they have always known how to compromise.

Grandpa laughs and tells me that when two people adore each other they find a way to work it out and then he says that it doesn’t hurt to have a hot 85-year-old wife. Grandma blushes, smiles broadly and tells him to shush. I think of grandma as being a very proper lady. She doesn’t swear but she doesn’t have to. On the rare occasion she gets upset she has a look that causes plants to wither.

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Grandpa’s death certificate will say something about natural causes and that is ok. But the true cause of death is a broken heart. He missed grandma terribly and even though she was gone he used to talk to her photo. But it would be unfair of me to paint a picture that didn’t describe him as trying to live a vibrant and active life without grandma. She was his best friend but even in her absence he did what he could to get the most out of his days.

But no matter how fast we run time is always faster and it caught up to him.

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I saw him every day last week and noticed a steady deterioration so I made a point early in the week to tell him that I loved him. Even though he knew it, I wanted to make sure that he heard it.  Even though he told me that he was ready and that he wasn’t afraid I wanted to try and ease his burden any way that I could.

Yesterday afternoon I went back and found him fast asleep. His breathing was labored and you could see that he had to fight for each breath. They had given him some Morphine to make him more comfortable and consequently he was sort of out it. He stared glassy eyed at the ceiling and I hoped that it wouldn’t be long. Not because I didn’t love him but because he was very clear about his wishes. He had a DNR and had told us all that if there came a time where he couldn’t function on his own he wanted out.

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“Grandpa, I have to leave,” I said. I bent over and told him again that I loved him and that if he wanted to let go it was ok with me. This time I just couldn’t say goodbye, so instead I said “so long” and walked out of the room. Six hours later he was gone, but in my eyes he died a hero.

90 comments
TheJackB
TheJackB

@Shonali Hey there. Everyone should have grandparents that help us to build these sorts of memories. They are so very special and important.

Shonali
Shonali

... and I hit "post" too soon. I wanted to say I'm thinking especially of you and your family. I hope you know that anyway, but I wanted to say it.

Shonali
Shonali

I'm so sorry for your loss, Jack. The way you described your grandparents reminded me of my own. 60+ years of married life, and you could still see the sparkle in their eyes when they looked at each other (when they weren't squabbling, but that was part of their fun). I miss them terribly, to this day.

Shonali
Shonali

I'm so sorry for your loss, Jack. The way you described your grandparents reminded me of my own. 60+ years of married life, and you could still see the sparkle in their eyes when they looked at each other (when they weren't squabbling, but that was part of their fun). I miss them terribly, to this day.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Faryna Don't worry about it Stan. We all have busy lives and I say that without sarcasm or any agenda. My grandfather was 97. I am sad that he is gone, but he lived a very full life and for that I am quite happy.

Faryna
Faryna

I'm also sorry that I was not here to comment sooner. A feel that I have failed you. I was part of that world that keeps moving along at the corner of your eye when there you were feeling such deep loss with your family.

Forgive me, Jack. I'll try to be a better friend. But you also need to shout out when things are darkly, my friend.

Faryna
Faryna

I'm also sorry that I was not here to comment sooner. A feel that I have failed you. I was part of that world that keeps moving along at the corner of your eye when there you were feeling such deep loss with your family. Forgive me, Jack. I'll try to be a better friend. But you also need to shout out when things are darkly, my friend.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@janetcallaway Hi Janet. It is nice to see you again. Grandpa told me that he never really saw grandma as being old. He was well aware of the effect of the years on their appearance, but said that she was always in her twenties to him. They had the sort of relationship that everyone wants. Thank you for your thoughts and concern, I really appreciate it.,

janetcallaway
janetcallaway

Jack, aloha. Saw your comment on my post today about needing a smile and wondered if perhaps your grandfather had just passed away. Now that I see it was a few days ago, I am so sorry I was not here sooner to comment.

Jack, You stories last week about your grandparents touched me deeply. What I so appreciated about them was the love I could feel from you as you wrote them and that your grandpa had for your grandma. Aside, from their dancing, I loved that he saw your grandma as she was in their early days.

Thinking of you and your little ones, Jack. So sorry for you loss; so happy for your experiences with them and what you have shared with us. Warmest aloha. Janet

janetcallaway
janetcallaway

Jack, aloha. Saw your comment on my post today about needing a smile and wondered if perhaps your grandfather had just passed away. Now that I see it was a few days ago, I am so sorry I was not here sooner to comment. Jack, You stories last week about your grandparents touched me deeply. What I so appreciated about them was the love I could feel from you as you wrote them and that your grandpa had for your grandma. Aside, from their dancing, I loved that he saw your grandma as she was in their early days. Thinking of you and your little ones, Jack. So sorry for you loss; so happy for your experiences with them and what you have shared with us. Warmest aloha. Janet

Livefyre
Livefyre

@AdrienneSmith Hi Adrienne. Those words are enough. You can't say anything to bring him back or change things and I am ok with that. I appreciate your being there- to me that is gold. All of my grandparents were great and I was blessed to have them longer than most people do. It was gift and I am happy to have so many good stories. Thank you again for your thoughts, I appreciate it.

AdrienneSmith
AdrienneSmith

Okay, this brought me to tears Jack and I'm so very sorry for your loss. Man, I hate those words but we never know what else to say at a time like this. It just never seems like enough.

Your grandparents all sounded wonderful and I'm sure you have so many happy memories. At least we have those to be thankful for and all those pictures. 97 is amazing, he was truly blessed.

My thoughts and prayers are with you Jack.

Livefyre
Livefyre

Okay, this brought me to tears Jack and I'm so very sorry for your loss. Man, I hate those words but we never know what else to say at a time like this. It just never seems like enough. Your grandparents all sounded wonderful and I'm sure you have so many happy memories. At least we have those to be thankful for and all those pictures. 97 is amazing, he was truly blessed. My thoughts and prayers are with you Jack.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@marianne.worley You are so right. It was very hard to say them, but it was the right thing to do. His body had just reached a point where the quality of life wasn't there so.....

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Chris_Buckley Hey Chris. I told the kids that it only hurts if it was something special and that this is the price we pay. I had my grandfather for 42 years- I feel very lucky.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@KDillabough Thank you Kaarina, we will miss him.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@BrandonPDuncan Those last five words have an enormous amount of truth in them.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Ameena Falchetto Hi Ameena. Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate them.

marianne.worley
marianne.worley

I'm truly so sorry for your loss Jack. Telling someone it's OK to let go is one of the most difficult things we'll ever have to do. You say the words, but you want to fight against them, to get just a few more moments with the one you love. I understand.

marianne.worley
marianne.worley

I'm truly so sorry for your loss Jack. Telling someone it's OK to let go is one of the most difficult things we'll ever have to do. You say the words, but you want to fight against them, to get just a few more moments with the one you love. I understand.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Jack, I am so very sorry for your loss.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Jack, I am so very sorry for your loss.

BrandonPDuncan
BrandonPDuncan

It's not about the death, Jack. It's about how they lived. Your memories keep them immortal. :)

Ameena Gorton
Ameena Gorton

What beautiful memories of times shared. My thoughts are with you all.

Ameena Falchetto
Ameena Falchetto

What beautiful memories of times shared. My thoughts are with you all.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@DanCristo He was great. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@bdorman264 This wasn't a surprise and certainly not a tragedy but as you said it is a piece of my history. I feel blessed to have had this time and now it is my turn to take over some of the things he used to do.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@fluteprayer Thanks FP. If I could play an instrument like you do I would certainly play something in his memory.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@FrankDickinson Thank you Frank. Lots of good memories are here to keep me company.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Billy_Delaney Hey Billy. I have been enjoying the rush of emotion/memories. Some of the old stories are just fantastic and it has been great reliving them with my children.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Hajra My grandparents helped teach me how to be strong when things are rough. Though I miss them all terribly- I have lots of memories and more than a few life lessons that I can attribute to their influence.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@Al Smith Hi Al. Thank you. I am very fortunate to have had grandparents for as long as I did. They all touched me in a million different ways and I am grateful for being able to recognize that so that I could tell them they were appreciated. Grandparents are truly special people.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@MarkSoFla thank you. I hope you have a meaningful and easy fast.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@torczyner P.S. Have an easy fast.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@JenP_kidsauthor Hi Jen. I like that imagery- it is easy to picture my grandfather visiting in that fashion. I expect that you are absolutely correct about my kids getting to know my parents in a different way than I do. I have great fun watching them talk and get to know each other. This blog is absolutely designed to serve as a repository of stories and memories. It is one of the things that I like best about blogging. Thanks so much for coming by, I appreciate it.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@BetsyKCross Hey Betsy. It would be nice if that happened, but the world hasn't deigned to stop me for yet- though I asked it to. Maybe one day, I am optimistic.

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

@Shonali Hey there. Everyone should have grandparents that help us to build these sorts of memories. They are so very special and important.

Latest blog post: Lean On Me

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

@Faryna Don't worry about it Stan. We all have busy lives and I say that without sarcasm or any agenda. My grandfather was 97. I am sad that he is gone, but he lived a very full life and for that I am quite happy.

Latest blog post: Lean On Me

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

@janetcallaway Hi Janet. It is nice to see you again.

Grandpa told me that he never really saw grandma as being old. He was well aware of the effect of the years on their appearance, but said that she was always in her twenties to him. They had the sort of relationship that everyone wants.

Thank you for your thoughts and concern, I really appreciate it.,

Latest blog post: Writers Write Right

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

@AdrienneSmith Hi Adrienne. Those words are enough. You can't say anything to bring him back or change things and I am ok with that. I appreciate your being there- to me that is gold.

All of my grandparents were great and I was blessed to have them longer than most people do. It was gift and I am happy to have so many good stories. Thank you again for your thoughts, I appreciate it.

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

@marianne.worley You are so right. It was very hard to say them, but it was the right thing to do. His body had just reached a point where the quality of life wasn't there so.....

Latest blog post: You Need Courage To Live

TheJackB
TheJackB moderator

@Chris_Buckley Hey Chris. I told the kids that it only hurts if it was something special and that this is the price we pay. I had my grandfather for 42 years- I feel very lucky.

Latest blog post: You Need Courage To Live

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