Goodbye

This entry is not kink related… This is life related… This is life and aging and loss…

A couple of years ago, my first grandfather died. He was my dad’s dad, a happy little elf of a man who was should have been canonized a saint for dealing with my she-bitch of a grandmother. He had dementia, among other health problems, and was the ripe ole age of 84. He had lived a full life, which is not something that could be said about a lot of my relatives.

Right after he passed my dad and I were in the back yard having a drink, something not uncommon for he and I when I’m home. On that balmy summer night he told me about the last real conversation he had with his father, and how they had said goodbye a couple of weeks before he died, when his father was still somewhat himself. They had had one of those very rare good talks that stick with you for the rest of your life. They talked about fatherhood, about what being a good dad really meant, and how much they loved each other and respected one another. Even though one is never quite ready for something like that, my dad said goodbye to his that night and mentally prepared himself for the actual physical goodbye to come.

I did that tonight, not with my father (thank the Gods) but my other grandfather, my DadDad.

I am the reason he’s called DadDad. He had wanted to be Grand Dad and I just couldn’t say it as a young child, and someone DadDad had stuck even though he was my mom’s dad. He always has been, and always will be, a superhero in my mind. He tried out for the New York Yankees back in the day, and would have played for the team if he hadn’t been drafted… He handled my Grammy, who is a force of nature. He tells the best stories about sneaking into his mother’s basement and drinking the house-made alcohol when he was much too young, and flipping a taxi over in Paris with his Navy buddies, and coming home with a baseball bruise so deep that you could see the individual stitches in his skin that led to my Gram SCREAMING at him.

His background is an interesting one..  Before he was even born his father was out of his life. The youngest of four kids, his father had managed to knock up his cousin’s wife and his wife at the same time and left my great-grandmother for the cousin’s wife the moment he figured it out. I’ve heard horror stories about this figment of a man, this great-grandfather that wasn’t so great that would chain his own daughter to a radiator in the basement for entire nights at a time because she gave her brother’s too much food, or would show up when it was convenient to him to see if the family was making money, and if he could get some when he didn’t know his own damn son.

My DadDad not only survived this, but thrived. He had four kids of his own, and then five grandchildren. He survived the loss of his wife and his eldest daughter, and until now has had minor health problems.

Now…

Now his confident, booming voice is soft. His blue eyes that normally sparkle with humor are dull. The man who used to lift grandchildren onto his shoulders with ease and run around the house can now barely walk. He used to love food, as any good Italian man does, and is now going days without eating and rapidly losing weight.

This is part of life. Humans age. They eventually die. My DadDad doesn’t have cancer. He has no deadly disease other than time, and he’s well aware of this on his good days.

Today was a good day. He was more coherent than he’s been in a couple years with me. Normally, he slips between past and present. He’ll call me by my aunt’s name, trailed off mid-story to stare into space, and repeat the same story time and time again. I never mind. I’ve always loved listening to his stories.

Today there were no stories. It was short. His girlfriend (yes, at 84 he has a girlfriend because my DadDad has always been a handsome devil) decided that he needed to spend the weekend with her, which resulted in a fight between her and my mother… While they fought I helped my grandfather into the car and took a knee next to the car door so that I could talk to him. I hadn’t seen him since June, a visit filled with stories about his mother and growing up.

He surprised me by locking his eyes with mine. They were clear, not foggy, and his voice was direct but soft. “Your grandfather’s getting old, kid. I’m not going to be around much longer. I’ve lived a good life though. 84 years… I never thought I would have lived this long.”

I put my head on his shoulder, trying not to cry. He kissed the top of my head and hugged me with shaky hands. “I know you’re being practical… Just try to take care of yourself while you are around, okay DadDad?”

He laughed. He hugged me. “I’ll try.”

We talked about me being in California. He remembered that I lived near San Francisco. That I had a boyfriend who was older but not too old. That I worked “too hard for someone my age”.

“Are you happy, kid?” I told him honestly, that I was. That I was tired, but I was happy.

He smiled, happy but tired in a different way. “Then that’s all that matters. You look good. I’m proud of you, of who you’ve become. I love you, you know that right?”

Of course I know that… I love my DadDad to the moon and back. I know he loves me too.. I’ve never had a fear about our relationship. Never. He’s been a superhero to me since I was a child. He protected me from the sea witch in the Little Mermaid when I was a child and from an abusive partner as an adult. He knew amazing things thanks to street smarts and protected his house and my parent’s house during Hurricane Sandy because of wiring work he had done thirty years before. He was, and in my mind always will be, invincible. Even with his body failing I see a quiet contentment in him that I hope to one day have. His spirit is invincible, untouched by age and decay, and the memory of his smile and that sparkle in his eye when he laughs will remain long after his body is gone.

I apologize for this entry being so long… This blog has become an outlet for honesty and emotion… and I can think of nothing else right now but this goodbye. Tonight I saw MY DadDad. I don’t think I’ll ever get to see that again.

Goodbyes are hard. They are part of growing up, of life and the passage of time…but that doesn’t mean letting go of a superhero is easy. They live on in legend though, always.

Yours with a heavy heart,

-Rene

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