Dear Grandma,

I haven’t spoken with you in quite some time and I am not really sure why. I suppose that one could say that it is because you died last year. You died on the day of my 14th anniversary- that is a hell of an anniversary gift. I remember wondering what one does for the 14th. You know how they have that list of things you do, one year is paper, another is diamond, gold etc.

Well, I am not quite sure where death fits on that list. Granted I don’t really pay attention to these things nor do I limit myself to conventional items. You know me, I march to the beat of my own drummer except that dude has no rhythm. And so it goes.

I went to see grandpa today. I try to see him as often as possible. You do know that no one ever thought that he would outlive you. We all expected you to be here longer than you were. Granted you were 96 so no one can call you a slacker or suggest that you didn’t uphold your end of the bargain, but still… Until the last few years you were a powerhouse of energy.

No one believed that you were really in your nineties. Mom says that you had more energy than anyone she knew and I believe her. I remember you walking the stairs to do laundry. You were in your eighties and you refused to let me carry the basket. You do know that you got me into trouble with that one. I got yelled at for not being a gentleman, but I didn’t bother arguing about it.

I don’t say this to upset you, but grandpa is prone to crying now. He misses you terribly and I understand, albeit differently. Seventy-six years of marriage is something that I can’t begin to understand on anything other than the most basic level. You never read this blog but I have written about you here many times. I have written about all of my grandparents.

My thoughts and memories are collected here in this blog. Think of it as a journal that we keep on the computer. Anyway, grandpa cries. He tries to hide the tears but there is no hiding the pain in his voice. I don’t think you would be surprised to hear that he loved you deeply, intensely. Somewhere in this blog is a post where I wrote about his fear of not being able to take care of you.

He told me about how you when you were 16 you would jump on his back and he would run. He told me that he couldn’t believe that he wasn’t strong enough to carry you anymore. He told me that he didn’t see an old lady, but the girl he fell in love with. I get it. I can see those things. When I go visit I often go alone because he doesn’t want his great grandchildren to see him struggle to keep it together.

So I make a point to visit sometimes without the kids and then when he cries I don’t say anything about it. It is a polite fiction that we both live with, but it is not always easy. He doesn’t cry all the time. We have entire conversations where he is composed, but the conversation always comes back to you and that is when things get rough. I’d ask for your advice, but….

There is a lot going on in my life too. So much to tell you, so many stories. Grandma, I am going to be 42 in May. Forty-two, how did that happen. Yesterday you and I walked down Fairfax to buy ice cream. Ok, so maybe that memory is pushing thirty something years, but it feels recent to me.

And did I tell you how big my children are. We booked a Bar Mitzvah date. Granted it is 2.5 years from now, but time moves so quickly. I am frustrated Grandma. There are things going on that just aren’t working for me, but I am actively working on making changes. I am pushing and pulling and doing my best to just go with things. Did I ever tell you that I always admired how easily you adapted to whatever happened.

You made it seem effortless. I know that there were times when it wasn’t. I know lots of things and lots of stories, but still. You were always one of the happiest people I know. To be clear, I wouldn’t say that I am unhappy, but I am not joyful either. That is why I am working on making the changes.

Anyway, it is after 2 AM and I need to get some sleep. But before I go I want to ask that if somehow these words reach you, can you go visit grandpa. Can you somehow let him know that you are not really gone. It would mean more to him than you know.


Your oldest grandson

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  1. Rose February 20, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Jack, your post was very moving. My grandparents passed before I was born. I never had the pleasure of knowing them. Treasure the moments you hold dear.

  2. Aidan Donnelley Rowley February 19, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Jack, this is so sweet and real. Thank you for posting this wonderful letter.

  3. nancy February 19, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Jack, you write so evocatively, and so truly. Regretfully, I never had the relationship with parents or grandparents that you describe so beautifully. Your writings make me realize what I missed, and nearly always make me cry just a little. Please don’t stop.

  4. Lance February 19, 2011 at 5:20 am

    We have a tremendous amount in common. My grandmother was my cloest friend and biggest fan when she died suddenly after hip surgery in November 2005. I have written several letters to her that only I will read. My grandfather, married to her for 58 years, died 7 months later of cancer and a broken heart. I visit them once a month and tell them the things that are in my letters. I was their oldest granchild. Thank you for sharing this. My respect for you is great.

    • Jack February 19, 2011 at 11:58 pm

      Hi Lance,

      We used to worry about what would happen to my grandparents because they were a unit. My grandfather is taking a beating but he is doing far better than anyone would have imagined.

      Those letters you speak of are important and meaningful. I hope you keep writing them.

  5. Kat February 19, 2011 at 4:03 am

    That was beautiful. Your grandparents are/were obviously very special people who have had a huge impact on your life and you’re lucky to have had them for so long. If only I could find a love like theirs…….

    • Jack February 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm

      I had four grandparents until I was almost 35. At almost 41 I still had two and now at almost 42 I have one. All of them played big roles in my life- I am very lucky.

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