It’s a bit past midnight on the 4th at this point now, but you’ll understand what I mean when I say that today, the 3rd, was the first anniversary of my grandfather’s death. I worked all day, so I didn’t exactly have time to set aside for remembrance.
On the morning of March 3rd, 2014, my grandfather was outside his home in West Virginia during a winter much like the one we have now, shoveling snow from his driveway so that if his wife’s mother needed an ambulance it would be able to get to them. The effort proved too much, and he had a heart attack. He wasn’t found for a while, until his wife came out to check on him. By the time the ambulance arrived, it was too late. My grandfather always had too strong of a work ethic. Barring his age of 80 years, he had been in relatively good health. Then he was gone.
Of all my grandparents, he was the one I knew best. He was my mother’s father. I knew my father’s parents–both now deceased–but not terribly well, and while my maternal grandmother was largely responsible for raising me as a child, she died from cancer when I was eight so the trauma affected me in ways that I don’t really know as an adult.
Old(er) age had mellowed him out. It’s my understanding he was not the kindest parent to his four children, but they had come to terms with it in their own way. I recall when he lived with us at our house in Florida he would often rage while my parents were gone, citing some thing they should have done, and he was cruel to dogs. He had killed a dog that charged at my grandmother one day when they were younger, and I don’t think he ever looked favorably on animals after that. Or so I’m told.
My grandfather loved Tom and Jerry cartoons and Bruce Lee movies, and would call us frequently to talk about the weather. He married his now-widow about two years after my grandmother died. Like a television grandfather he always gave me Werther’s Original butterscotch candies, and sent me a card with some money every Christmas.
I have some regrets, though I’m not certain what they are. Naturally I wish I’d spoken with him more often in my adult years, though we were not exactly strangers. The last time I personally spoke with him had been in January of the year he died, to wish him a Happy Birthday.
Death sucks. I’m not sure how to mourn, really. I called his wife for Christmas and got their voice mail; she hadn’t changed it so it was still my grandfather speaking. I wasn’t emotionally ready for that and broke down. It still catches me at odd moments, and in many ways I deal with it by not thinking about it much. As if I could just coast through the year like I normally do, with only a little bit of a hiccup around holidays when we’d normally speak. Or when I come downstairs in the morning and he isn’t chatting my mother’s ear off on the phone.
I miss him.