My sister and her kids left this evening. It was the first time that the children had been here since my grandfather died. They ran around the house searching for him. The older two understood that he is gone, but that didn’t stop them from conducting a little scavenger hunt of sorts.
When I walk through my parent’s house I find myself looking for him. Everywhere. Somewhere. Anywhere. The halls are empty and his chair is bare. His presence is absent and yet in some ways it is still there, lingering.
My father is an orphan. I suppose that one day I will be too. I look at him. I watch him and study how he handles this. It is a habit that was ingrained in me at birth. How can I not pay attention to him and how can I not notice how many things he does that my grandfather did.
There are expressions and gestures. There are reactions and actions and in all of them I see my father and echoes of my grandfather. If I see this much in my father it makes me wonder how much my children see in me, or how much they will see.
Grandpa and I were very similar. There are some things that I share with him that I don’t have in common with my father. It is ok, I don’t see a need to be a mirror image. I don’t expect my son or daughter to be a mirror image of me either.
I suppose that in some ways we cannot help but look at our parents/grandparents and study them in an effort to understand ourselves better.
The children asked about him. They knew that he was gone, but still they wanted to know where Grandpa was. I asked them where they thought he was and in a quiet voice the eldest said “he died.”
We talked about it a little. It is a conversation that I have had with my son many times. He understands that right now he is the end of the line. Grandpa died and that left the line with my father, myself and my son.
And then there were three.
In a short time my daughter’s memories of grandpa will fade. My two youngest nephews won’t remember him at all and the reality is that even the memories of the eldest will be vague. It pains me a little.
My grandfather meant so much to me. He is a part of me. Like I said earlier, there are certain things that he and I shared. There are secrets that I was given trust of and in turn secrets that I placed in his care.
The things that we knew about each other are deep and the truth is that it really bothers me to write about him in the past tense.
Here is the big secret. When I think about him I don’t always get that lump in my throat and part of me feels guilty about that. It feels a bit like a betrayal to his memory and at the same time I know that he wouldn’t want the fuss. He would be uncomfortable with it, so I can’t be too upset.
It is a part of life and in my experience it is ok to let some of that go. It is not really a betrayal. It is ok not to hold on to the pain and loss.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it from time to time, I do. It just means that it is not always present.
I loved my grandfather. It is tough to realize that I don’t have him around anymore and it is hard to accept that the kids will never know him the way that I did.
But they will hear stories and in spending time with me they’ll be exposed to certain expressions and thoughts. So I suppose that in some way they will learn more about his legacy.
Grandpa died. It sounds so hollow and feels so empty.
I miss you…still.