I was going to try to be uplifting and witty with this post. I know that a good amount of people will be reading this post, and I didn't want to be a "downer".
However in the sense of honesty and authenticity, I can't be witty tonight. Sorry. I have a lot weighing on my shoulders this week. I am in the middle of my online graduate class which has left only a few coherent brain cells left. More than that, I am in the middle of yet another family member being very ill and near the end of their life.
Over the last 7 years, my husband and I have had a close family member pass away every year. Most due to cancer and some from old age. I am desensitized to the process of illness and death. In October, we congratulated each other in a macabre way for making it a year without going to a family funeral. And here we sit, February. facing yet another end.
I am a very lucky woman. I have had three grandparents (two grandmothers and one grandfather) who were were present in my life, all the way into my thirties. Not many people get to say that. I am blessed that I was able to witness and experience my grandparents throughout many different stages in my life.
I am blessed that my 93 year old grandfather knows and has a wonderful relationship with my kids. I am blessed that my husband has a unique relationship with my grandfather. And I am blessed that I am able to have the relationship I have with my grandfather.
In the past week, so many people have stated that he is a "national treasure". While I agree with that, given his heroic WWII fighter pilot missions, I never thought of him as that. He was never the "Colonel" in my eyes, never the Reverend or the "Cad" as my mom and Grandma would tease him about. He was/is and always will be just my Grandpa.
It wasn't until I was older that I learned of his missions and the importance of them. It wasn't until I was religiously knowledgeable that I understood his spirituality and it wasn't until I was much older that I began to understand his "charming" personality.
When I was a little girl, we could speak with looks, and very little words and just "get" each other. I knew if he was joking around with me if I could look at his eyes. He could never pull a trick on me as long as I could see his eyes. Even now with his eyes half closed, I know when he's joking with me... through the slit, I still see the twinkle.
When I was younger and he was a smoker, I used to throw his cigarettes in the trash. He would get so mad at me. Until one day, he realized the importance of what I was "saying" and he quit cold turkey. That was about 30 years ago. No one else could get him to stop. But I did.
My Grandpa is a man with a quick and sharp tongue. But he is kind too, always caring for others and praying for others. A fighter pilot turned reverend. A man who had to try not to say "Damn" at the pulpit and made sure he had his 5:00 martini (5 olives, if available); but one who feels privileged to teach about God and welcome people into his faith.
|Myself, my Mom, My Grandpa, Dylan (as a baby) and my Uncle|
|My Grandpa and my Son, 90 years difference|
His spirit and mind are still alive and well, but his body is giving out. And that, truly, is the most difficult part. I just want him to have peace in whatever way he needs.
The other day, I went to visit him at the hospital and I just held his hand. I didn't need to say much, but of course I teased him. Just a little; cause that's what we do. And through the slit in his tired eyes, I saw the twinkle.
|My Grandpa, being goofy|