Saturday, July 17, 2010

20 years later

My grandfather in the dark shirt

My grandfather passed away 20 years ago July 13th. I have been quiet these last few days reflecting on him.
I was 20 years old when he died and it has been 20 years since he died....strange to think that the amount of time that has passed is the amount of time I had him in my life.
My grandfather was a hardworking passionate man. My memories of him are intertwined with childhood and summertimes with him and my grandmother. He never graduated high school, and after the first date with my grandmother, he had decided he was going to marry her. He fell in love instantly with a girl who wanted out of her home and didn't tease him about his teeth or his stutter. She remembered that he was wearing a new suit, and was soft spoken and would do anything for her.
He worked in the garment industry as a pattern cutter. In his later life he sold bolt ends at the swapmeet and could look at a person and tell them how much fabric they would need to make a dress for themselves.
He had a love for food, and would struggle his whole life with people accepting that about him. He loved the heat and a good "shavitz" (sweat), you would often find him in the pool soaking in the sun and tanning himself in the summer sun.

He died of ALS, a disease that took away his love of food, conversation and mobility.
Some doctors thought that years in a warehouse inhaling fiber, or chemicals for color might have contributed to the disease. In the end it didn't matter, he was dying and nothing could stop or change that.
On the night before he passed I was sleeping at the convalescent home in the bed next to his. Santa Barbara was on fire, as it was battling the Painted Cave fire. I saw him and his best friend walking down the hallway with cigars in their hands.
I was there when he took his last breath....and felt relief and deep sadness all at the same time.
So here I am 20 years later, wondering where all this time went. Why even after all these years I am still filled with sadness and hope to have one more conversation. I can still hear a whisper of his voice, like it is coming from down a long hall. Sometimes he visits me in dreams, but often says nothing.

Here is to you grandpa, I hope you are no longer in pain, and are able to go anywhere, have a few bucks in your wallet and eat anything you want.
I see you in my nephew and get to say your name when I call to my niece.
You are remembered, and honored.

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