The priest I work with is one of the most amazing people. He’s deaf and has faced discrimination and difficulty his career and now, as an unpaid labor of love, taught himself basic archival procedure so that he can create an archive about and for other deaf Catholics. He has one of the best sense of humor and is just one of the nicest people. Not one of the nicest deaf people, but period, no qualifiers. We always exchange pleasantries when he comes in, but today was different. He wanted to give me a housewarming present, two handmaid tablecloths his parents had purchased in Guatemala some time ago. His (non-priest) brother had no use for them, and neither did he.
The tablecloths (both beautiful) were what managed to get me through the day.
At 8am, shortly after deftly applying my eye makeup, I received a phone call I’d been expecting for about a week. It was my mother, letting me know that my grandfather had passed away in the wee hours of the morning.
He turned 90 on April 25th, and we celebrated by sneaking a beer to him at the nursing home. The only present he wanted, and the best he could have received. I know that I am truly, truly lucky to have had my grandfather in my life for 26 years, but also to have someone who was so kind and loving as my grandfather. I am lucky that this is my first real experience with losing someone I love dearly.
Being lucky does not make it easy. Despite knowing that this was coming and, as he was no longer waking up or eating, hoping that it would come soon to ease his suffering the loss is still their and so painful. I expected tears and sadness but instead my emotions have fluctuated wildly, swinging from tears, to feeling A.O.K, to irrational angry at the smallest little things. Their is a surrealness to the hole in my life. A crushing sadness when I think about the fact that he is simply no longer there and a confusion as to what that means.
We would butt heads sometime, my grandfather and I. We’re both Tauruses after all. But I love him dearly. it doesn’t feel right to speak in the past tense. I haven’t stopped loving him, all the kind and wonderful things he has done haven’t ceased simply because he’s no longer physically here. I picked my undergraduate school simply because it was located close to my grandparents. I would call on weekends to tell them I would be over soon to help with chores around the house, and then I would pull into their driveway and he’d be on the lawnmower, finishing up the job I came down to do. One time my freshman year I became very ill and even though he no longer drove regularly he didn’t want to wait until my grandmother finished running errands and he came to pick me up in an impossibly fast time. He wasn’t even mad when I threw up in his car.
My grandfather deteriorated quickly in the past few years through the help of Parkinsons and Dementia but he always recognized his family.
It’s all a very roundabout post, with very roundabout feelings but all I’ve thought about today are the tablecloths and my grandfather. I’ve got many long days ahead of me as I process my life without him, but it gives me some comfort, no matter how small, to know that there are randomly kind people out there, people my grandfather would really like.