I got to thinking about my paternal grandfather today.
I have not mourned his death and I knew, at some point, the grieving process would progress. Normally when I get to thinking of him I push it away and stop the emotions. Usually because I am somewhere public and it is not the "place" to wail and do the ugly cry. You know the kind with the snot dribbling from your nose and bits of tissue stuck to your face.
Today I was home...
I was watching my sweet daughter playing with a toy hammer and nail set. The way she was holding the hammer, nail and the rhythm at which she worked triggered a memory of working beside my larger than life, six foot tall, grandfather framing walls for my very own bedroom. I was a teenager. I remember looking at his big Norwegian hands and how easy it was for him to hammer away, piecing the 2x4's together with the nails, like they were popsicle sticks and stick pins. It was effortless for him.
Then I flashed forward to a time when he was sick with a flu and he was laying in his bed. My husband and I had stopped by to see how he was doing. I remember him saying," This is a bearcat!" He felt like he was dying and I remember worrying that he could be as he was getting older. This was a man who, when we discovered he had diabetes, shoveled the driveway and sidewalks of his house before heading to the hospital! Upon arriving at the hospital the staff were amazed that he walked in there on his own two feet as his sugar level was 28!(A healthy blood sugar level being around 5-6) He laughed and told the nurses he had shoveled the snow before he came in! I remember sitting on the edge of his bed and just running my hands through his thick head of hair and he was like a little child just soaking up the love. He almost purred...I cling to and cherish that memory..
As these memories flashed up another thought came like a runaway freight train. When my grandfather was dying in the hospital, I wasn't there to help him. I wasn't there to calm him, sooth him, tell him he was a good man to me. That it was okay, he could go to sleep and rest in peace, and tell him that he was a good man to me. That he would be remembered by me as a man who did his best with what he had. A man who, despite family dysfunction and his own mistakes in life, had found a way to endure silently, but endure he did...and maybe that's where my ability to endure stems from.