A Flickering Candle

Dear Children,

It is late Thursday night and my mind is moving at a million miles an hour. Yesterday I took you to see your great-grandfather, my grandpa, to say goodbye. It was hard for you and it was hard for me. You don’t have the same memories of him as I do. You don’t remember the love affair he had with grandma nor do you remember the million and one things that I do.

That is ok. You are not supposed to have those memories of great-grandparents, though I wish that you did. These are people who helped make your daddy into who I am today. They watched me grow up. They were at all of my graduations, baseball games, swim meets and a million other events. They know me in a different way than you do just as I know them. Did you notice that I switched from the singular to the plural. That is because it feels more natural for me to refer to them in the plural and not just grandpa.

Please don’t misunderstand that to mean that I loved one more than the other. I loved them all for similar and for different reasons.

Today you both told me that you didn’t see me show emotion about this and I am a bit concerned. You said the same thing about my reaction to moving and I am concerned. I am concerned because I don’t want you to think that your daddy is an unfeeling person. I don’t want you to think that I am never sad or that things don’t bother me.  It couldn’t be farther from the truth. You are not reading this blog yet and you won’t be for quite some time so I need to sit you down and try to explain things in terms that you understand.

That fire in my belly that I write about here burns ever so brightly for those I love. It hurts to lose grandpa. You don’t realize how much it hurts or how I miss my other grandpa. You don’t know how much time I spent with them. You don’t know that I don’t cry very easily. You don’t know me as Jack, just as dad. And because of that you don’t see all of me. Some of that is not for you to see, at least not now. It is not because it is bad, but because there are pieces of me that you don’t need to know until you are old enough to understand  them.

I don’t quite know how to explain this in a way that doesn’t sound goofy and melodramatic, so bear with me. But dad, your dad that is, me, well my job is to try to be more than just a man. For a brief period of time it is to be a superhero. For a brief period of time I am teacher/bodyguard/guardian/Batman/Superman what have you. And it is not easy, because sometimes heroes fail and I have…failed. I have stumbled and fallen. I have taken a severe beating but I always get back up again. I get back up because that is what daddies do.

I would take the bullet for you or jump in front of the bus. I wouldn’t hesitate nor think about it because that is what daddies do. And I know this because of what I learned from my dad and from my grandparents.

+++++

In the years that come I want you to see a bit of what this night was like for me. I went back to see grandpa today and he was much weaker than yesterday. His candle is flickering and he is slipping into the darkness and whatever comes afterwards. I held his hand and talked to him. I told him that your aunt was on a plane and that she was coming to see him. I asked him to hold on a little bit longer so that she could say goodbye in person.  See, in addition to being your daddy I am a big brother. For the time being I stopped teasing her about being an ancient woman of 40 and I told her that I would make sure that grandpa knew she is coming.

And now it is heading towards midnight and I feel jumpy.I am waiting for the call. I am waiting for the word that will come sooner than later. I am not happy that he is going to die but I am ok with it. He has had a very good life and he made a point to tell me so. It is hard for him to breathe and hard to speak, but he still tried to make me feel better.  I told him that it was ok and that I was ok. We made eye contact and nodded at each other.

I will keep visiting him until that moment comes, but if it happens before I get back- I am ok.

+++++

But the most important thing to me is to make sure that you understand that though I may keep some things close to the vest it doesn’t mean that I am not sad or that this doesn’t hurt. It  is important because I don’t want you to keep it bottled up as tightly as I do. This is not one of my finer traits and not something that you need to emulate. But we can save that talk for a different time. I carry you with me always.

Love,

Dad

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11 Comments

  1. TheJackB August 6, 2011 at 9:09 am

    @jetts31 I think that what you did for your father is great. It is not easy, but it is important not to abandon family at the end. Sometimes death is a relief for all parties, even though we may miss them.

  2. jetts31 August 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I empathize. I sat in the Critical Care unit of the hospital for 5 hours with my dad as he slowly slipped away. What I take with me is knowing he would no longer be suffering. That he knew we were all there to hold his hand, tell him we love him, and say goodbye. My thoughts go out to you and your family.

  3. TheJackB August 5, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    @subWOW I understand and appreciate it. All we can do is try our best and I have done that…

  4. subWOW August 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Jack, I have no words. Could I offer you cyber {{{hugs}}}?

    As always, your words to your children (in the future) are honest and powerful and loving and wise. They will know their father (this sound weird but I trust you know what I am trying to say…)

  5. subWOW August 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Jack, I have no words. Could I offer you cyber {{{hugs}}}?

    As always, your words to your children (in the future) are honest and powerful and loving and wise. They will know their father (this sound weird but I trust you know what I am trying to say…)

  6. TheJackB August 5, 2011 at 8:55 am

    @HowieSPM Hi Howie. Thanks. I agree with you. I am grateful to have known my grandparents and for my children to have known great-grandparents. It really is a blessing.

  7. TheJackB August 5, 2011 at 8:54 am

    @BetsyKCross Always good to see you here Betsy. Thank you.

  8. HowieSPM August 5, 2011 at 8:28 am

    That was a really wonderful and touching post Jack! My condolences. Being glass is half full not many children get to know a great grandparent at all. Not every child has grand parents they will look back fondly after. And not all of us will live a long and fruitful life with loved ones and a chance to say goodbye properly. So I view this as blessings for you and your children.

  9. HowieSPM August 5, 2011 at 8:28 am

    That was a really wonderful and touching post Jack! My condolences. Being glass is half full not many children get to know a great grandparent at all. Not every child has grand parents they will look back fondly after. And not all of us will live a long and fruitful life with loved ones and a chance to say goodbye properly. So I view this as blessings for you and your children.

  10. Pingback: The Economics of Being and Joy: Why you must say THANK YOU! « The unofficial blog of Stan Faryna

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