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. :)

hey lady

We took Lady to the beach a few weeks ago. Her first time.

She panted and paced. And paced and paced.

She didn’t like the waves.

Her breathing was quick and shallow.

Lady is a 6-year-old German Shepherd my brother adopted from a tow yard. My grandparents’ tow yard. Up until a few years ago, my mom’s parents ran a towing company in Akron, Ohio. Now, due to ailing health and their children’s disinterest in taking over the business, they are having to rethink their plans of running the family legacy for forever.


That means rethinking Lady, too.

My grandfather rescued Lady from the pound as a puppy. Since then, she’s been the “guard dog” at yard. Some guard dog. Lady is the sweetest, most docile German Shepherd you’ve ever seen. Upon meeting a stranger, she whines and lowers her head, nuzzles and asks to be pet. When the yard was being shut down, Lady needed a home.

My brother and his girlfriend wanted a dog.

The pet movers were contacted, the arrangements made, and “voila,” my brother and his girlfriend had a pet. But it was different adopting a 6-year-old dog than adopting a puppy, they discovered. Lady was restless and uncomfortable indoors. She preferred sleeping on the grass to the bed they’d bought her. And she just wouldn’t calm down. Even outside, she whined all night long.

It’s been a few months now, and, gradually, Lady is getting more comfortable. But the episode at the beach reminded me of how difficult, in some instances, change can be. Even in situations where the change is for the better, it often takes a while to adjust. This is also true for changing ourselves—our habits, thought patterns, and attitudes. While other people’s dogs were yapping happily, chasing balls into the waves or snoozing contentedly on the sand, Lady was pacing and pacing. And panting and panting.

She really was happy. It was just . . .

If dogs have a hard time with change, how much more do we?

Retreating to safer ground after testing the waves

Lady and her new owners