My Grandpa passed away last Monday. For those that didn't know, he had been suffering with Alzheimer's for quite a long time. Luckily we went to visit him for Christmas and got to spend some time with him but even then, he was not doing so well. Within the last week of his life he had come down with a cold and his body was starting to shut down on him. I had just talked to my mom about letting go, I knew it was only a matter of time before he couldn't hold on any longer and last Monday was that day.
Part of me is relieved that he doesn't have to suffer any more. I know it couldn't have been easy to deal with the condition he was in. It makes me feel slightly better knowing that he must be in a better place but it doesn't make it suck any less.
He was my Grandpa. He was a wonderful Grandpa, the best. He was important to me, I respected him so much and I loved him a lot. I was actually named after him and brought his first grandchild into the world, who brought an immeasurable amount of joy to his last few years of life. I guess the simpleness of interacting with a child comes easy when you're brain isn't capable of much else. Even when he couldn't carry on conversations anymore, he always had the biggest smile when Eliza came around and had no problem entertaining her (or being entertained I suppose). I'm so glad that Eliza got a chance to know him before he left us, I just hope that she remembers him as fondly as I do.
I think the hardest part is imagining that I will never see him again, that he has left this world, and that I no longer have a grandpa here. There's so much I will miss about him even though I know he's better off now.
He was such a great man in so many ways, those who knew him could attest to that. I could go on and on about how much he brought to this world but I'll save that for another time. He had such a kind and loving soul and had the biggest heart of anyone I knew. You can actually read an article about him here and learn of some of his accomplishments. I can only hope that I can live up to the legacy he left behind, make my mark on the world and somehow make it a better place.
I'm trying really hard to be positive about it all but it still hurts, you know? Like a lot. But it's been a great experience, very humbling and inspiring to look back on his life and try to celebrate it rather than just mourn over him. I spent the last weekend in New Orleans with my family and I have never felt so close to all of them than I do now. I don't know what it is about grieving that makes you feel more connected to others. Like somehow people are more open and loving and forgiving and accepting. There was a lot of drama involved as everyone's emotions were all over the place, trying to prepare for the funeral, but if anything, I think it really brought us together. Physically, because it isn't often that our huge family manages to be in one place at the same time but also emotionally. It was overall a pretty good, deeply fulfilling weekend.
Death is such a strange thing though. It's hard to explain why exactly I'm sad because even though he is "dead", I don't truly believe or feel that he is gone. I can still feel his loving presence when I want to, when I focus hard enough. I can still feel him in my heart when I beckon him. I know he is there... (or here?) when I need him, I can feel his spirit all around me. It can be very sudden and overwhelming. And sometimes, it brings tears to my eyes but they're not tears of sadness. They're intensely happy and whole and filled with so much gratitude.
I am not religious but consider myself pretty spiritual, following my own path of learning and understanding. There are still a lot of things I can't yet comprehend but death is always such a tremendous learning experience for me. It's always a time of introspection and evaluation for me, to make sure I'm living my life true to my self and creating an existence that I love and wholeheartedly believe in.
Among the many things my Grandpa was, I think what I took away most from him was his faith and his thoughtfulness. He displayed them in every aspect of his life from his work, to his family, to his dedication to his church. He was an extremely logical man but lead his life with his heart. His passion and commitment were evident in all areas of his life and I like to think that in that way, I am a lot like him. He was courageous and frugal and always had the best intentions. He was the best role model anyone could ever ask for. And even though he is no longer "with us", I will continue to learn from his adventures and forge a life that I know will make him proud.