my grandfather was a large man with a delicate smile. he walked the world with a dedication for what is right and demanded that of others. he gave of himself with love and devotion and expected dedication and exceptionalism in return. he challenged me to be my best, and i felt inspired to be what he thought i was.
today, i spent the day in the garden. . .missing him. it has been nine years since i held his hand as he moved to another place and it has been three years since i have truly felt him walk beside me. i miss him.
i feel myself thinking of him when i am parenting. he loved fiercely and pushed me with even more ferocity. i believe my children would say the same about me. BUT, one big difference, he was a force to be reckoned with, i am not. try as i might, i cannot elicit what he could: my back would straighten a bit more when he talked, my focus deeped on his every word and i believed in his wisdom, when he held my hand or told me he loved me i could feel my heart burning bright enough for anyone to see.
he died like he lived: his family by his side. . .all of us.
i hope you will excuse the journey back to that last week of his life so i can cry, remember and feel close to the man who never fell from his devoted granddaughters pedestal. . .
i had just had my first baby and as soon as i felt safe to fly, i came to be with my grandparents. will was about 6 weeks old and we all sat together: myself, will, my grandmother, my grandfather and the cancer that so ungraciously came to sit within him and with us. we sat together for over a week, laughing and talking until the cancer stole that which so defined him: his voice. he was quiet and my heart sat still.
you see, my grandfather was a story-teller, a blogger before we blogged. he wrote about everything, our trips, his life, our lives. . .he then added pictures and snail mailed them to over 100 recipients. he finally put all his writings into three hard bound huge books that i cherish. our lives are detailed in those books: the moment my grandmother just knew my cousin was born even though she was thousands of miles away, our childhood pranks, our weddings, our children. . .it is beautiful. so when my grandfather lost his voice, i read to him. i read his life and although his eyes were blank, i read on. the wonderful hospice nurse came to take him for a nap during an afternoon of reading, i felt alone and as i hung my head to cry, i felt something on my knee, it was his hand. this beautiful man without a voice and a blank stare reached out to me. . .he was there and he had heard me. i held his hand and i cried harder for both of our losses.
i left two days later for my brother in laws wedding. when i arrived back a few days later, he was already asleep for the night. after unpacking my bags and getting my son to sleep, i left my room for a glass of water. i walked out of my room and turned to find my grandfather making his way to the bathroom with his nurse and faithful walker. i was frozen as our eyes met and then i heard it. . .he whispered, “lisa reva”, i ran to him. as quickly as he was there, he was gone. the moment was no less beautiful. nine years later it is that whisper that brings him back to me.
my grandfather died a few days later. the wind billowed the curtains and the sun warmed us in the cold of the pending loss. my cousins and i cuddled up on his bed and told stories. we laughed hard and cried harder, we shared and we consoled and we even gossiped about our lives. he was there with us and we would be there with him. when he finally let go (shortly after my sister arrived from Virginia), he left quickly, but his spirit lingered. my cousin and i sat, after he died, at the foot of his bed. it felt right to stay with him, the room was warm and oddly enough we were laughing and talking. it was sudden and unexpected but as we sat there, the room became cold and unwelcoming, we were not afraid but knew he now was truly gone; his soul had gently floated out on the shoulders of those who had gone before him.
i felt him for years: in my dreams, in my sons room, in the garden. i haven’t felt him in a long time and some days, like today, i just wish i could. most days i remember that he is in the eyes of my children, in the gentleness of my mother and in the spirit of so much that i am in my life.
he used to say: “hitch your wagon to a star. . .and then get out and push” oh yes, one of his mottos (along with TNT – today not tomorrow)! when i started to blog a few weeks ago, to a feeling of oh my god, what am i doing, i remembered his books and i pushed myself to hit “publish”.
my beautiful grandfather with your crystal blue eyes and fiery italian spirit: this ones for you, wherever you are.
no need for shoes: a time in which you could be wearing any shoe and it would never matter or be right. it is a place where all of you is in unison and all of you is in disarray, the dichotomy of life and death. . .