Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fade to Black

Sunset - Flotsam of the Mind

It seems very wrong to write a eulogy for someone who is still alive. That's what I've been doing today. But instead of putting my scattered ideas onto paper, I'm writing this. It's one thing to eulogize in your head and another thing entirely to commit those thoughts to sentences and paragraphs.

Then again, while he is alive, my grandpa has been gone a long time. Only an empty shell remains of the big man he was. He has suffered from dementia for years, and his body has now finally withered the way his mind did years ago. This is likely the end.

It's hard to know what to feel. The man who was my grandpa exists no more. His body continued to thrive long after the mischievous twinkle in his eye dimmed. For some time now, he has existed in a state I doubt he'd ever have wanted to continue.

In most ways, his death will be a blessing. My grandfather was a religious man who believed he would see my grandmother on the other side, and he wished for that even before his mind began to falter. His death will be a release from a life he would not have wanted and a fulfillment of his greatest wish since my grandma died fourteen years ago.

And yet it will still be sad. While my grandpa has been gone a while, I haven't grieved for him. Dementia didn't take his life; it made him fade away. Only with the finality of his death will it feel right to celebrate his life and mourn his absence.

We believe that time is nearly upon us. While some family members sit by his bedside and hold his hand, I sit in my house many states away with the luxury of my memories. In my mind tonight, he is the big, fun-loving guy of years past, holding court at the blue-checkered kitchen table with a pitcher of beer and a bowl of popcorn in front of him.

I will soon gather with my extended family to commemorate the physical end of a life that ended some time ago. It will be bittersweet, knowing that it was time but feeling sad a life has ended. I, for one, plan to have a good time because that's what Grandpa would have done. I only hope someone drinks a Manhattan so I can eat the cherry from the bottom of the glass just like Grandpa always let me do.

11 comments:

  1. This is beautiful and a wonderful tribute to your Grandfather. It made me think about my Grandfather who's been gone for almost 14 years. He always drank Manhattans too!

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    1. Thanks, Beth. I hope I saved something for the actual eulogy I need to deliver. It is still a jumble of ideas in my head.

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  2. Susie: This is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Glad you like it. You know better than any of the rest of us.

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  3. Hugs to you throughout the long, hard wait. Saying goodbye is never easy -- saying goodbye twice, even harder.

    My Mom, too, is a Manhattan drinker (when she breaks away from her Keoke coffees, that is). My kids have consumed many alcohol-soaked cherries from their beloved Nana. I love that it's one of your special memories.

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  4. "the luxury of my memories" -- your use of this phrase reminds me of the following quote, which is a favorite of mine: "Memory is the treasure house of the mind wherein the monuments thereof are kept and preserved." (Thomas Fuller). Richness abounds, dear Cynthia.

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  5. sounds wonderfull! i thought maybe each of the grandkids, at the funeral, could tell a memorable anecdote. i know karlin has one i've heard 100 times. i'm taking the wheelchair back to cancer society today. luv ya, pattie

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  6. Sorry about your loss. Sending good thoughts your way as you remember and honor him.

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