**My grandpa loved Merle Haggard and it just so happened that he inherited his dad's old fiddle. It is now in a display case hanging in my own dad's house.
Near the end of David Copperfield, several things happen almost all at once in David's life that sets him on a course away from England for a time of travel. He makes his escape without much thought of reflection until his mind decides that he cannot afford to mentally run away from the tragedies that has befallen him. In the meantime, he writes his books and he meets people - all the while keeping himself fairly secluded. Eventually he returns to his home only to discover he is somewhat surprised that life seems to have moved on during his absence. But he is happy because he feels clarity stealing over him like the light from a hot summer sun even in the midst of regretted realizations.
I've been thinking about that part of the story since last week. I feel jealous of David Copperfield, for he picks up and runs away from everything that happened without much of a second thought. He does so being fully aware that his troubles will follow him, but he knows it will help him. It is a much needed break from reality that I long for.
What do I say about the last week that hasn't been said in the past? More specifically, that wasn't said two years ago? My dad buried his dad, us three grandkids buried our last grandparent last Saturday. After my sister and brother in-law went home, life returned to routine as usual. It felt almost disrespectful - like life would be doing us all a favor if it would just stop dead in its tracks for a few more days so we could catch up. Everything happened so fast even though we all saw it coming. Once again, it feels so unfair.
My grandfather passed away a week ago just before I walked in the door to his room. Had I not paid a visit to the coffee shop before heading there, I would have been there when it happened. It felt like a dream and yet I cried with the recognition of the finality of it. His pain had come to an end.
Now, as you know, I only speak for myself in this blog and I leave the feelings of my family out of it for reasons of respect and privacy. I will only say that I think we all agreed that last week felt surreal. He died early Wednesday morning, the obituary showed up in the paper on Friday, his services were on Saturday. Now it is Wednesday and things are finally starting to hit home. I don't care about anything right now.
I have better coping skills than I did two years ago and I also have a much better environment in which to grieve such a large loss, but I still have to remember to be gentle and kind with myself. Even as I write this I can feel different emotions welling up inside of me and I can't make heads or tails of them. What I do know is that they all stem from a root emotion. It is sadness. I'm just very very sad.
My grandfather was a very kind, generous, and caring man. He had a quirky sense of humor and an ability to make light of just about anything. And just like my other grandparents, the man knew how to really smile.
He touched many lives, for whomever he met or came across instantly became his friend. My grandfather is missed by a great many people including family. I miss him!
He and I bonded a great deal when his wife, my grandmother, passed away. We were the only two there when it happened. We had many conversations with each other ranging from the afterlife to past memories, and we hung out quite a lot. I eventually moved into the same apartment complex as him and we even took a road trip to Boise, Idaho once. I don't plan to move out of my apartment, but it does feel different living here now.
I gave a talk at his funeral services. I was up after the Airforce performed military honors. We watched the two soldiers salute the hearse as it drove up, we watched the folding of the flag, we watched as it was presented to my dad, and then we listened as one soldier played "Taps" on the bugle perfectly...and we all sobbed. It was my turn then - to pay tribute to my grandfather on behalf of my family - with humor, grace, and with the intent to bid a farewell that was worthy of him. It took me a while but I got through it. I said goodbye to my last grandparent.
Even at my age (36) it was always a comfort to have the grandparents around whenever I wanted to feel like a spoiled ten year old kid. I ran to them when I disliked my parents, and I enjoyed their company even when I had my own place to run to. Now I only have my memories to run to.
So what am I feeling now? I feel sad for my loss, I feel mad that time didn't stand still to show some respect that I lost someone near and dear to me, I feel like a mist has settled over my eyes and turned all of last week into a strange dream, and I feel the brick of reality creeping up to let me know that all of this is real. I feel selfish and a bit self-absorbed in my own mourning and I'm okay with this. Gone are the days of my judging myself harshly for what I feel. It is what I feel, and no one can take that away from me.
I know I'm not alone in this. I know that my dad, my mom, my brother, and my sister are all feeling their own series of confusing emotions as well. To them and to myself I say that we will get through it together, but don't be afraid to be selfish on your own accounts. I didn't want to face life today so I allowed myself to sleep 14 hours. I've kept my blinds shut up against my windows because if life can give it a bit of a rest for me, it can in my own space. Allow yourselves to do whatever you have to do to feel what you feel. It doesn't make it feel better but you'll experience the movement of your emotions and you won't get stuck. That's important!
That said, I still wish I could go. We lost three parents/grandparents in the small space of two years. That's not a lot of time. And so it is that I wish I could pick up and go somewhere - alone - like David Copperfield. I wouldn't be able to spend three years away but I could do a week. I could jump on a plane or in my car, put the doggy in overnight camp at his favorite place, and take off with a few books, my laptop (for writing), and my journal.
I could make life just stop for a while.
You are much loved, Grandpa! Thank you for spending a little more time with us, but you are home now. Tell Grandma Sipes and Grandparent's Aalders we all said hi!
Jasper Glen Sipes
December 9th, 1932 - May 15th, 2013
|2010 Wendover, NV. @ Rainbow Hotel/Casino|