When I write blog posts, I try to conjure up all the honesty and wittiness I can muster. Sometimes I'm successful, other times I'm just so ambivalent the resulting post clearly suffers. My post today is a serious one, and one which I will probably not succeed in conveying into words what I would like to say. I don't expect many comments on this because there isn't much anyone would be able to say, but it is something I felt I had to do.
Two years ago today my maternal grandfather, the only grandparent I'd ever known, died. He was 89 and had been ill on and off for about five years, so it came of no surprise. The Dude and I joke that he was finally released from my Mom's constant impassioned pleas of, "Please Pru, call/visit/write your grandfather, he won't be around much longer" which peppered each year of my life from the age of 12. The poor man was classified as nearly dead for 13 years despite being in relatively fine health until his mid-80s.
My grandfather lived in Arizona, and I in Pennsylvania until I moved to the UK, so I wasn't able to see him often. When I still lived in the States I talked to him weekly, and even as he got older and his body failed him to previously unknown heights, his mind was sharp and his wit even sharper. He had a tremendously dry sense of humour, one which, as an old man, some people interpreted as cantankerousness. Most people would look baffled when he would attempt to be funny, unsure whether to crack a smile and nod their heads at the confused old man, or pretend he said nothing at all.
I have a younger brother who is 5 years my junior, who my grandfather designated "The Chump". I, of course, was "Princess" (stop puking into your hats. I'm darling!). My brother was at one time "The Champ"--good grades, athletic, and a good churchgoing kid. Somewhere it all went wrong- the grades declined, the sports decreased in number, and church was a trial rather than a pleasure, hence his new designation of "The Chump". In his gruff voice, my grandfather stood up at a family reunion, with dozens gathered around this aged patriarch and said, "These are my only grandchildren. This beautiful young lady is my Princess. I'm so proud of her. This boy is my grandson. He used to be called 'The Champ' but now I just call him 'The Chump'." There was an awkward silence as everyone looked at each other, unsure as to how to react. I ruined the moment by laughing hysterically and mocking my humiliated brother. My brother saw the humour, reluctantly, and my grandfather looked over at me and winked.
It was difficult for my grandfather to cope with getting older. He was always being rushed to the hospital for cuts and bumps due to attempting to carry out things he could no longer manage to do, like pick oranges from the tree in the backyard, do basic DIY around the house, and play golf, which he loved. He was infuriated that he could no longer do much aside from sit in his armchair and read or watch sports on TV. One of his few joys was his evening bowl of ice cream with his Chow, Candy. He and Candy would each settle down with a bowl of ice cream every night, generally the standard strawberry, vanilla or chocolate, and put on a baseball or golf game.
Old age wasn't what he thought it would be. My Mom used to tell me about his periodic bouts of depression because he hated what he had become, but he was also terrified of dying. Talking to him after learning this made me horribly sad, as he always put up such a strong, confident front. I often wished that his mind would decline as well so he would be less aware of his ailing health, but even moments before he died he was cracking jokes to my step-grandmother.
A few weeks ago I dug out the last letter he wrote to me which said, "I think it's about time old grandad rides that trusty old steed into the sunset". Not long after that he passed away. He died on the 26th, and my birthday is also on the 26th day of a month, albeit July. When my Mom told me that he had died, I told her that I wasn't surprised that he passed on the 26th. "The Chump" was born on the 27th of July, and he certainly wouldn't want to go on the day of The Chump.
In honour of him, I thought I'd put this picture of him on my blog. He is as he would want to be remembered - young, strong, and rather dashing if I do say so myself. I love this photograph.
Because I am completely irrational and slightly crazy, I will interpret the importance of the 26th day of the month as a sign. I was born on the 26th day of July, my grandpa passed on the 26th of October, and here I am on the 26th day of October two years later, starting my meds for IVF #1. I'm not suggesting anything kooky, just that this significance might bring me a bit of luck. I do know that if I do get pregnant this cycle and it sticks, my child would likely possess at least a bit of his or her great-grandfather's black sense of humour. I wouldn't have it any other way.