Posted by: Tina M | 16 April , 2014

A farewell for Grandpa

When I think of my Grandpa, I think of grapefruits. It’s strange, to imagine the soft yellow and pink skins lined up neatly in wooden crates in his basement. Plucking two each morning as breakfast for him and my grandma. I remember this as one of the rituals when I visited as a small child. I can still remember sitting on one of the carpeted steps of the interior of their 3 story Ohio home- working on a sticker book my parents had given me to keep me occupied. I remember as I watched them neatly scoop up the pulpy core of the fruit, I felt the satisfaction of plucking the stickers from their pages and neatly arranging them in their destined spot. It was such a comfort to have completed something- it helped me to feel as if I was neat and orderly too. 

I never felt much like i fit in, being one of the grandkids that lived furthest away- what was meant to be a warm and safe environment was stiffly proper and made me feel like I had to perform differently than the rest of the areas of my life.  The fancy dinners with the whole family- different than with my Mom’s side of the family, instead of being gathered around a kitchen table in one of our cramped houses it was at one of the clubs he belonged to. The Italian club, the Knights of Columbus, etc. there was always white zinfindel, spimoni ice cream, and those lottery tickets that unfolded to reveal your prize. I don’t remember much about my grandparents.  

It’s hard to admit but i don’t remember much about my Grandma at all- except she seemed fragile, with her pale skin and bright red hair. I remember she painted- and I still aspire to her talent. She died when I was young, and I remember hearing in the years ensuing that my Grandpa wasn’t the same. As is the classic story, when an older person loses their partner, they don’t thrive in the way they once had.  Unfortunately, I lost touch when I stepped back from my father (who always acted as a gateway to that side of my family). I reached out once but heard no response. 

I heard today that my grandpa has passed away. all opportunities to reconnect have passed, and the grief that once was for the relationship I wish I could’ve had has turned into a grief for losing that strand of my history. I loved my grandpa, even in his stoicism. The pieces that stay with me are a mosaic of random senses.  I remember tall coiled edges of cigar ash trays that stood around their house, a sign of his former habit. I remember the plaid golf pants, that would inevitably be sported off the course and earn the laughter of the family.  I remember his pocket protector- making me feel worldly for knowing that they were more than a nerd joke, but in fact an accessory.  I will remember him as a piece of the tapestry that is my life. I’m sad it’s not a larger portion, but I feel stronger for having him woven in my childhood and heart. 

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