Well, shit, I’ve certainly dropped the ball on my Christmas series here. As the French elegantly say “zometimez shit fucking app-enz”.
Where to start? With my last post. I knew shit was likely to hit the fan when I wrote that so I made a quick, nice little place holder and figured I could pretend everything was dandy until I could explain more. My grandpa passed away last Wednesday. He had been sick since early in the fall. This is my paternal grandfather, Bob. Not to be confused with my maternal grandfather: the lovable perv, Bill. Bob was a gentleman through and through. He was intimidatingly erudite, a staunch democrat, a kind and gentle father in a time when fathers were not supposed to be kind and gentle, and truly, honestly warm. He fought in WWII, and never stopped making jokes about the French. He lived to be 89, about two weeks from his 90th birthday. Up until the very end, he had his mind, his humor, and his politics. Immediately I joked that he was planning on getting out before Inauguration. He despised Donald Trump, because Donald Trump is the opposite of the values he held dear. Don’t even try with me and telling me you’re offended and that you think I’m chastising you for voting Trump. I don’t give a shit. I’m talking about personalities, and no, you can’t argue that Trump is a gentleman. In the hospital, one of my uncles said something about Trump and my grandpa opened his eyes and said I don’t want to hear another god damn thing about that god damn man.
He waited until all his living children could be here in Ohio, sit and talk with them, and then in a brief window between his children’s shifts at his bedside, he went to sleep. Shortly before, my aunt said he was dreaming and talking in his sleep. She heard him say Now you be careful, that is one fine instrument and we can’t afford to replace it. He was a surveyor and loved his work. It often kept him out of an office and afforded him the chance to enjoy nature on the clock. In his twilight between worlds, he was in a happy place.
It’s funny the journey and relationship we all have with faith. Some people are pushed toward skepticism by one event, pulled into faith by another. Some never question one way or the other. One of my best friends jokes that her Good Catholic Education taught her everything she needed to know to be an atheist. Personally, I don’t know how one could live and exist in this world and believe in no larger force. I see evidence of the untouchable every day. Maybe this is because I’m paying attention, maybe it’s because I’m willing it to be there, or maybe it’s because I’m just really fucking special. Whatever it is, it’s there and for me there is no question.
Perhaps that is a contributing factor in why the physical loss of my grandpa has me a bit more happy than sad. A good, long life is almost a miracle. Especially when that good, long life was threatened by stage III pancreatic cancer at 83. Everyone was sure that was the end, but it wasn’t. He came out of it, bought a new car, and took a trip to see his first and most special granddaughter be married. He did all of this without my grandmother. My grandmother died 20 years ago, and it was a long 20 years for him. He always said he was an Indian and she was The Chief, and that is the truth. She was a force of nature and he was her right hand man. He hated making decisions for himself—from what to have for lunch to what kind of khakis to buy. She did it all and he preferred it that way. Their wedding was never discussed nor were there any pictures. It seems there was a bit of a rush, but that is not my business. What grew from that was a big, strong family. When all the kids were grown and had moved to all corners of the country, my grandparents retired and bought an RV. My dad always says he thinks that was their happiest time. It combined my grandma’s time-on-task nature and my grandpa’s love for navigation, the beauty of landscapes, and a way to spend time with each of the kids. They traveled in their RV six months out of the year for about five years. My grandpa always thought they should head back east far sooner than my grandma who wasn’t too intimidated by icy mountain passes. She was, after all, the woman who slipped on ice at Bob Evan’s and hurt her hip and then slipped on ice again at Chi-Chi’s a few months later and fixed it.
|Part of the previously mentioned Limoges bender. Thank goodness, I needed lots and lots of plates. Proud to say every single person ate from china. How many? I have no fucking idea. Five dinners in six days. Only two big ones though.|
|For big groups, I always label every dish and include notes about dairy, meat, and gluten. Even labeling the obvious prevents|
me from making a rude face when someone asks a dumb question. No, believe it or not, the pork tenderloin is not vegan.
What should have been a second lifetime of travel in their RV was cut short by my grandmother’s very difficult and tragic illness. Her perpetual cigarette brought her down and my grandpa was alone and without his captain. He did okay without her, but he needed her. So it is with faith in…whatever—that I raise a little toast.
To Bob and Jinny: to their new life--in their old RV