In May 2012, the unthinkable happened for my grandfather. My grandmother unexpectedly died in the middle of the night from a brain aneurysm. Almost 60 years of marriage had culminated in one life-alterating Sunday. For the last many years, my grandfather had prepared our family for the likely event that he would enter into eternity before his beloved wife. They sold their 80+ acre farm built by my grandfather, father, and uncles so my grandmother need not deal with it once he passed. A house was built in a subdivision for them to live the rest of their time on earth. Financial planning was set so my notoriously thrifty grandmother would go without nothing upon my grandfather's passing. But, like many plans, they failed. My grandmother passed and it left my grandfather in a sea of unprepared grief and loneliness. His grief was not like a sniveling child but one that showed the maturation needed to understand the finality of earthly death and sorrow. His joy had left.
For 8 months, he tried. Having gone to bed at 7pm every night for the last 30 years, he readjusted his schedule to stay up a bit later. He wanted to make sure that he was awake enough so that people could visit. My uncle took him to the grocery store for, perhaps, the first time in his adult life and showed him around the complicated maze of food. He found that there was cheaper beer than the one my grandmother was buying him. However, he would still stick to the one-beer-per-day limit that my grandmother thought he should maintain. My aunts would stop by often to help with food and to clean the house. He bought a computer and I taught him about Facebook. Though he was critical of his cyber skills, I would often compliment him on his noble attempts. Because of consistent strokes he had through the last few years, it was difficult for him to remember new skills. The computer spoke a foreign language. However, he wanted to see pictures of his grandkids and great-grandkids. His reasoning, "Anymore, it's one of the only things that make me happy."
He really tried.
The day before he died, I visited my grandfather at his house. He needed his computer fixed. Fortunately for me, he need only to be logged back in to Facebook and nothing requiring major technical knowledge for which my grandfather thought I had and I faked well. After "fixing" the computer, we sat in his living room talking about our family. The love for his kids filled much of the conversation. He thought it was silly to be so sad because he's had such a fortunate life. "But," he said, "I'm sad every day." He went on, "Every day I would go out and try to make some money and be productive to support our family. At the end of the day, whether I failed in my attempts or succeeded, I would come home to mama (his name for my grandmother) and I knew everything was going to be alright. Every day I wake up, I realize she's not here anymore and my home is missing."
My grandfather died at his kitchen table looking at his Facebook. He had a massive heart-attack and it was over for him in an instant. Perhaps he was looking at pictures of his legacy in his kids and grandkids as he took his first step into eternity. Maybe it was the last look he would want in this life. My grandfather is home. I hope God has granted my grandfather his wish of seeing my grandmother again. He was determined that if God would oblige, he would tell her that life wasn't good without her.
He wanted to apologize for the first 15 years of their marriage when he wasn't the husband she deserved. He wanted to let her know that he should have spoiled her every day they were married. He wanted to give her a kiss and be home again. I hope my grandfather got his wish.
May their love live for eternity and their legacy continue on with our family.
This is a song that characterizes my grandparents well: