the end of an era

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

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.

Have you?

P.S. I love you, Grandpa Joe! I’ll see you again someday soon. :)

11 thoughts

  1. I can’t ‘like’ this post since it is about personal loss.
    No I haven’t heard about anyone happily growing old. Just the other day, I was thinking to myself how I would be when I grow old, what would I say to the grandchildren, will i be too preachy, and all that stuff.

    It’s really tough to accept that our bodies are mortal.

    My condolences are with you and family. May time heal the hurt.

    • Thanks so much, Subh. And, yes, you can “like” this post! It may be about a sad topic, but I still could have done a good or a bad job writing it. If you connected with it in any way, then I will feel it was a success.

      Yes, it’s hard to imagine what it will be like to be a grandparent when you’re at the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve already observed changes in my life outlook since I was a child, and then a teen, and then in my early 20s… But you’re right. It’s hard to accept that we are mortal.

      Thank you for your condolences.

  2. Yes, you’ve done a good job with this post. This made me think – not only about growing old, but also that I should really start enjoying life despite it’s imperfect nature.
    You never really know how fast time whooshes by and before you know it, it’s time to leave.

  3. Jessica, another one of your best blogs. This one rings true, is personal but applies to everyone, is thought provoking, soft, and moving. Emotional for me because they have been family. Very well done. Keep writing!

  4. hey, saw this from the post about your nana. i really enjoyed reading this. . .it seems like you wrote out so many people’s thoughts and feelings so well. i’m sure g-pa joe is smiling at you for this one.

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