Blogging Like I've Never Blogged Before

Sunday, July 11, 2004

My grandfather died on Friday night. Ninety-six years old. All of his years were good ones up until this last one. Some dementia. Quite possibly the nicest man I've ever known. I know it's commonplace for people to exaggerate someone's qualities after they've died, but I can honestly say I don't think I've ever heard anyone say a bad thing about the man. If anything, he was too nice.

About a month ago he went into the hospital and he looked very uncomfortable and I assumed it'd be the last time I'd see him. So I stayed in his room a little longer than I had planned. I didn't want to leave. Once I finally did leave, I said goodbye to him, and he, not really sure of who I was, extended his hand to shake my hand goodbye. And I thought, Here is a man who is on what appears to be the verge of death, and he still has the courtesy to shake my hand. He said, "So long" and I left.

He actually got better in the next few days and hung on until the other night.

On his 90th birthday, we had a surprise party for him. Lots of people he hadn't seen in quite some time were there. Towards the end of the day, I was talking to him and asked him if he was having a good day. Always one to understate, he said, "Well, I didn't think it would be this big but it happened and that's it."

He wasn't one to philosophize. He would say that a lot... It happened and that's it. I liked that. Nice and simple.

The hardest thing about the last year or so was that he was still aware he wasn't in good health. While his mind wasn't entirely all there, he would still say things like, "I'm not so good no more" and just last week he said, "I'm just sitting here doing nothing." He wasn't some kind of loopy old person talking crazy. He still knew what was what, even though he didn't necessarily know who was who.

One of my favorite things about him was that he would always say, "So long." And he'd tell us to not say goodbye. I think maybe Bon Jovi stole "Never Say Goodbye" from my grandfather. Or maybe my grandfather was a big Jovi fan.

Anyway, I'll miss him but I'm glad he is no longer lying down knowing he's not healthy. I'm happy that he can see his wife again after 12 years. I think if you asked him today what he thought about his life, he'd probably say, "Well, I didn't think it would be this big but it happened and that's it."

Indeed. So long, Grandpa.

All material © Mike Toole; 2003 - 2006