I remember thinking earlier in the week, “I can’t wait until this is all over. For the moment when he finally lets go, when he’s no longer in pain. Then I can start grieving, we can all start the process. We are ready for this.”
Man, I was a fool.
You’re never really ready. I sat at your bedside for three days and KNEW what was happening, and I STILL wasn’t ready. I’m still NOT ready. I remember telling mom, “This time is different. I have to get there, I just have this feeling that this time is different.”
How wrong I wish I was.
I have to trust that you knew. I have to trust that The Smartest Man I Know knew what he was getting in to. I have to trust that you weighed all the options, considered all the risks, and made the right decision. Because that’s the man you were, are, FUCK. I hate talking about you like you’re not here anymore. I have to remind myself that the next time I call Grandma (which I’ve done twice now, by the way) you’re not going to be on the other end.
There are SO many things about you that I will never, ever forget. I will never, ever forget the smell of your tobacco pipe. The one you used to smoke when I was little. I’ll never forget the way you used to close one eye when the smoke would find its way up to the inside of your glasses. That’s why I called you Popeye. I will never forget the way you would cross your legs when you sat in your chair, reading a book. So calm, and confident. I’ll never forget your laugh. So light and airy, but how it filled the room. I’ll never forget how you would sometimes suck the air in through your teeth, especially when you were deep in thought about something someone said (or actively ignoring the nagging). I’ll never forget your love of nature, the woods, the rivers. Your respect for all things outdoors. Your love of fishing, and hunting, and camping.
And I’ll never forget the last week I had with you. How lucky I am that I got to sit in a room full of people who love you more than you will ever know, and listen to all the stories. How you looked when Grandma first saw you, how you never took her on a date. All the stories about the trouble my Mom, and Aunt, and Uncle would get into as kids. All the places you lived, and experiences you had. I’ll never forget the day you got to talk to us again, and how the first thing you did was kiss Grandma. And ask us if you had “been a good boy.”
I’m so fucking lucky. I got to spend so much time with you growing up. Camping, and fishing. I have a picture of me, sitting on the tailgate of your old Toyota, eating a sandwich and smiling from ear to ear. Camping with you was always so fun. And the road trips…. oh my god, the road trips. I remember the time we were going to Arizona, and I had to go to the bathroom SO BAD… there wasn’t a rest stop for miles. You had to pull over, and I had to learn how to pee on the side of the road. Grandma was beside herself. I loved travelling with you guys.
I have a confession to make. All those times we sat around playing Solitaire? I cheated sometimes. I would take the top card and put it on the bottom so I would get new turns all the time. I KNOW! I’m sorry. I always wanted to win. I loved playing cards with you.
There’s so many memories I have to go through. From when I was young, all throughout my life. You (and Grandma) have always been there. For as long as I can remember. And I’m so damn lucky, because not everyone gets that. Not everyone gets to have their grandpa around to take them places, and teach them things….
So thank you.
Thank you for teaching me how to fish.
Thank you for teaching me how to camp.
Thank you for teaching me how to play cards.
Thank you for teaching me how to tie flies.
Thank you for teaching me how to respect my surroundings.
Thank you for teaching me that smart is awesome.
Thank you for teaching me how to road trip.
Thank you for teaching me how to be strong.
Thank you for teaching me how to take care of your family.
Thank you for being there.
I miss you so much already. And I know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I have so many memories to go through, I’m sure I’ll be writing to you again. Thank you for holding on long enough for us to get there. Thank you for letting me say goodbye to a man who is very important to me. Thank you, for everything.
I love you.