My grandfather died today. Grandpa Joe.
A gruff blue collar man, Grandpa Joe knew little beyond his tow yard in Akron, Ohio. That’s where he was comfortable, see. That was his empire.
He came to California once, before I was born. That was for my parents’ wedding. Since then, we’ve visited him. California is a l-o-n-g way from Ohio.
During their marriage, my nana and he were often at odds. They yelled and bickered; Grandpa Joe threw things once in a while. They spent much of their time annoyed with each other—that is, until these last few years. With both of their health on the decline, and his on a slipperier slope, they began to depend on one another. I talked to my nana last week; her voice was soft and sweet. “Joe’s been eatin’ real good . . .”
Their 60th anniversary would have been on the 9th.
Nana and Grandpa Joe at their family reunion last summer
And it’s left me so, so sad. No, not for my own loss. While I would have loved to have known my grandfather better, the storytelling-grandpa stereotype just wasn’t him. And that’s okay. Rather, I’m sad for my nana, and for my mom. Like her mother, my mom’s relationship with her father had begun to improve over the last few years. Out here in California, she didn’t get to say goodbye.
But it’s more than that, too. I’m sad for the loss of companionship and the lonely nights ahead. I’m sad for the end of an era without a start anew. I’m sad for the way time passes, and how life changes. Sometimes it changes for the better, and some things improve with age. But I’ve never heard anyone say it’s easy to get old.
P.S. I love you, Grandpa Joe! I’ll see you again someday soon. :)