No matter how much you “prepare,” no matter how much you’ve “been there, done that,” it’s still hard to lose someone.
I’m no stranger to death. First death was when I was too young to remember it, buried my mom’s biological father. Since then, I’ve buried 3 grandparents (yes 3, and 2 more to go), numerous great aunts and uncles, some family friends, and some friends. I’ve had 2 people in my life commit suicide. I was able to attend one of those funerals.
I’ve been to viewings, rosaries, and funerals for people I barely knew, for people I looked up to, and for people I loved dearly.
All of that doesn’t make it any easier to lose someone.
When I met J’s Grandpa Weigel, I immediately fell in love with him. He was all smiles and jokes until it was time for business. You could still hear the slight accent in his voice from growing up in a community of German immigrants. And he gave great hugs.
Then you learn that he only had an eighth grade education and taught himself to read and write. I got pretty good at translating his handwriting and misspellings. It wasn’t hard.
He didn’t remember my name at first. After my first visit, he called me Melissa. We still joke about that. Not entirely sure it was an accident. The man had a keen mind and great sense of humor.
It was obvious to me that Grandpa loved his family. He kept pictures of all of them above his desk. He made sure no one felt left out. Even us in-laws. I called him Grandpa, and he reminded me of my Grandpa Pete, Mom’s step-dad. Both ranchers, but tough outside with soft insides.
I treasured our visits with Grandpa Weigel. I would even stop and visit on my own if I was traveling through. I would plan my trip to stay at least one night with him. He came down to El Paso to visit us twice. He met Rembrandt at 5 months old. He left me bring my pets when traveling through. His cuckoo clock scared the hell out of Duke. He always had a new name for Remy – Fido, Spot, Blacky, Shadow, any random dog name.
He’s an Army veteran. He served in the Korean War. He was injured over there. He came through Fort Bliss on his way out of the Army. He worked as a meat cutter while running his ranch in Colorado and raising 5 kids. He nursed his wife through breast cancer. He lost her to breast cancer. I never got to meet her, but from what I’ve heard of her, she sounds quite a bit like my Grandma Gus (Mom’s mom).
When Grandpa got sick, it was lung problems. A tiny little part at the back of my mind said I was losing Grandpa Pete all over again (emphysema). They are not the same man, but he reminds me of him.
Grandpa Weigel died today. He was weak, using all his energy just to breathe. He had lost more weight than a person should lose. He could barely walk across his room.
I love this man deeply, more than I can express. I’ve always been a “grandpa’s girl.” I adore my grandpas. I adored this one just as much. He accepted me as I was, as part of his family. I will never forget that.
I wrote his obituary. First time doing that. My sister was nice enough to edit it for me, since she has newspaper experience. I will do as much as I can to make sure everything goes well at his funeral. Not for him, but for my husband, my mother-in-law, her sisters. This is where all that death comes in handy.
I know that the funeral isn’t for him. Grandpa is gone, he is with Grandma somewhere. Funerals are for us, so we can have closure and say goodbye. Grandpa was a good man and I have no doubts about his soul. This is for us now, so we can remember him and celebrate his life.
Plans are being made for the critters. I’m grateful for my milspouse family here as they are helping me out with that. My mom let me talk and vent this afternoon to keep my sanity. My sister is editing the obit for me. My friends and family are amazing.
And for a close, here is a pic of Remy and I with Grandpa, taken on our trip last June, 2011. Please ignore how horrible I look in this photo.