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Thursday I was planning on posting a picture and funny quick write-up about squirrel-y murder. After that I was going to do ten thousand things in my garden, and start knitting another baby blanket, then…then, then so many other things. Instead we flew a thousand miles away from our current home, to the old one because life has a cycle to it.

On the shuttle from the parking lot to the airport we sat next to the nice man who was going to Florida with his wife on their very first empty nester vacation, and listened to him tell eager stories about how great this first vacation without kids was going to be. They were stories about his place in the cycle, the part he was on. He asked my son where we were going on vacation, and I sucked my breath in a little between my teeth unsure how my 5-year-old was going to be able to relate what part of the cycle we were on. It didn’t phase him though, he calming sat in his seat and told everyone listening that we were going home to bury his great grandpa. It was so matter of fact coming from him. He isn’t quite at that point where he understands what is happening, so everything about it from his little lips sounds a little rote, a little too much like just parroting back what mommy and daddy have been saying. The shuttle was very quiet for the rest of the ride as we continued on our way back home to family. Back to the great aunts and great uncles and great 1st cousins once removed; to the parents and 5 pairs of aunts and uncles and 14 other cousins with their 9 other children which all added together and stirred a little to make room for late comers added to around 40 family members gathering around Grandma. Grandma sitting there at the table without Grandpa.

I feel sad, but a little distant, mostly sad for the family around me; this was my husband’s family. A HUGE Family, that after 6 years I still am only batting around 60-70% at with putting names to faces. While I know  Grandpa was quick to smile, quick to poke fun, and quick to work; that he liked to play dominoes and cards, and make home-made ice cream every christmas I feel badly that we lived so far away, because my boy and myself, didn’t really have the chance to know him better. I know he loved my son. He was quick to tease about his dimple, but I don’t really know what he thinks is funny. Would grandpa think the squirrel-y murder I was going to writing about as funny? He was farmer, squirrels are a nuisance, but he loved things that were quick and quirky, like my son, so maybe he did think squirrels are funny. Yes, I just compared my son to a squirrel while trying to decipher a dead mans humor. I don’t know if that’s offensive.

It’s weird to think that Grandpa is gone. He was farmer, the son of a farmer, and a man who fathered many other farmers. Even my hubz, who is an engineer and moved us to a big city for his job looks like a farmer. Ask any one, they’ll tell you. It’s hard to image that grandpa is gone, because a man who was that connected to the earth is hard to imagine, for me, as a baby that grows up and one day dies. Surely such a person as grandpa was never a baby; certainly he and his kind just rise from the ground, craggy and tan from the start, with a bag of seed corn in one hand and a milk pail in the other. Maybe that’s why he is being cremated. You can’t just put his body in the ground because it will get back up and start milking cows again.

My son is squirrel, my grandfather in law is a zombie. These are the places my mind goes as neuron by neuron my brain process the phrase “Grandpa is gone.”

I must be honest about all this. “Grandpa is gone” has been the easy part because even when it is unexpected, we can accept the fact that the elderly die. It’s how life works. While we were there, something else happened, something that should not be how life works. My husband’s cousin’s son, my son’s second cousin, who was three years younger than my own son at a perfect and beautiful 22 months, died within days of his great grandpa. He was admitted to a nearby hospital the same evening as his great grandpa, and while this little boy was in surgery for a mass in his brain his grandpa passed away, and a few days later, while nearly every one gathered around grandma on the farm this little boy still hadn’t woken up from his surgery. The day grandpa was buried this little boy was taken off of life support and his organs donated to save the lives of 4 other little children.

This death has been so much harder on everyone, because it isn’t right. It isn’t how the cycle should turn. I am finding it more pressing and difficult to process than even the deaths I’ve had on my side of the family. All of those were the elderly and we were prepared. I’ve never met this little boy, and because the family is so big, and we get home so seldom, I wouldn’t in all likelihood be able to pick my hub’z cousin out in a crowd. I’m not sure what that says about me. Maybe it’s worse because I am myself the parent of a small boy. I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.





One Comment

  1. beautifully said

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