I was never really close to my Grandfather. My relationship wasn’t really anything close to what you would see on television or movies with the lovable granddad having his grandkids sit on his knee while he regaled them with stories of yesteryear and give them treats every time he saw them. As far back as I can remember I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation that didn’t last more than a couple of sentences here and there. Fact of the matter is he stayed to himself, and I to myself. When I was a child, I grew up in a house full of women, the only other male was my Grandfather and everyone knew to leave him be whenever he came home from work. I can remember he would go down into the basement (what was the equivalent of a man cave in those times) and just watch television by himself until it was time to go to bed. My Grandfather came from a generation of men who didn’t share, voice or show their emotions to others. The fact that he stayed around, worked until his seventies, and paid the bills when no one else had a job, was his way of showing he cared for his family.
I wish things would’ve been different between us, that he could’ve been that grandfather on the movies and television, but he wasn’t that man, and I wasn’t that grandkid either. We’ve had more clashes than anything, and I felt for a long time that he didn’t care for or about me personally. It wasn’t until a few years back, when I was immensely sick and couldn’t even stand for more than a couple of minutes without feeling like I would collapse, that my Grandfather showed that he did. My room had become a mess, with paper, clothes and other things scattered about. I had gone to the doctor for treatment and when I returned I had found that my room had been cleaned. The floors vacuumed, clothes and stuff picked up. My Grandfather had cleaned my room for me. That may not seem like much to most people, but for my Grandfather it was a lot, to me it showed that he did care. After that, for my birthday he would hand out a twenty to me and showed genuine concern when I went through some hard times after my illness.
As my Grandfather grew older and more frail he was resigned to simply sitting in his room, either listening to the radio or watching television. Most of the time I would pass him and see him sitting there in his chair, with a small, resolute look on his face, neither happy nor sad, just accepting of that juncture in his life. I posted a few months back about how we learned he had cancer and that he probably wouldn’t make it through the holidays. But not only did he make it through those weeks, he made it through months, lasting longer and even confounding many of the doctors who didn’t give him any time.
My Grandfather was 95 years old. He lived through and witnessed many things that most will never get to see or experience and lived to an age that many can only hope of reaching, and all the time he stayed the man I always knew him as, for better or worse. My Grandfather and I weren’t close, but in those last few years, I know that he cared for me, and I shall miss him and wish him, wherever he may be…a peaceful journey.