Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fathers

Fathers Day brings many memories for everybody. Whether you had a wonderful father, or you were one of the unlucky people to have a flawed dad who possible did more harm than good, without them, we know we would not be here. So acknowledging them on this day seems appropriate in any case.

I especially think about my maternal grandfather on Father's Day. In my life, he was the most "fatherly" figure for me, in the most common sense of the word. He was kind, patient, loving, gentle, and all the other things you think of when you think of the kind of person you might want for your own father. He is the reason my mother was the same kind of person and I saw so much of her in him. I never heard him raise his voice, or speak unkindly of anyone. The few times he got angry, he spoke with a sharp edge on his voice and you knew it was not his normal tone so something was not right!

Grandpa loved to garden. He would walk me around his yard when I came to visit, explaining each plant to me and talking about the unique beauty it held. I can still see him in my mind with his gardening hat and clothes on - he never wore jeans of course, but he had is "work clothes"- a baggy pair of old pants and an old button down dress shirt made his look complete along with the hat. When he had those clothes in I knew he also had a pair of pruning sheers in his hand.

I was in high school when Grandpa died. He had been sick for some time but I wasn't aware of the extent of things. Now I understand he had colon cancer and probably suffered greatly before the end. I last saw him in the hospital (there was no such thing as hospice in those days) and he was trying to eat some soup. but his hand was shaking so much he could barely get it to his mouth without spilling all. In retrospect I imagine he was ravaged with cancer at that point because he died a few days later, never having come home from the hospital. I was devastated. I loved him so much and it was the first real loss like that for me. I still remember every detail of the funeral home, the funeral, the people, my family - it was traumatic and its all seared into my mind even all these years later.

I've thought so much about my grandfather since then. When I had children I wished he was still around to see them because I remembered how much he loved children. And even now I look at my grandchildren and I can hear my grandfather chuckling at something they do. He was my favorite grandparent and he was gone long before the others.

Sometimes life just isn't fair like that, right?

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