Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lessons in goodbye

My grandfather was my favorite male role model as a child. As I grew older, that position alternated between him and my 2 uncles on my mother's side.

Uncle Bobby and I would spend hours playing chess. I think he taught me how. Initially, he won every game, but then I started winning a few here and there and more and more often. It seemed like every time we went to the bayou, Uncle Bobby would come right over and hang out with us or we would go to his house and he would always make time for us. I always felt special to him, probably because I was the only one of us 4 girls who was old enough or interested in playing chess. When I was in high school, he got lukemia and I put off going to see him because I was in school and I never got to really say goodbye. I didn't see him when he was sick and it was a closed casket viewing/funeral, so I didn't see him and occasionally I have times when I forget he is dead and then I remember and it hurts all over again. I feel guilty I didn't make time to go see him. Lesson learned -- don't put off until tomorrow anything you would regret not doing or anyone you would regret not seeing.

Or so I thought.

Uncle Phillip and I are 2 peas in a pod. We just connect. We are both the oldest in disfunctional families and we both have the same dry sense of humor and we just enjoy being together. I enjoyed seeing him Tuesday and Wednesday, despite the circumstances. I hope we have many years ahead of us to spend time together, love each other and learn from each other's experiences.

Papa accepted me no matter what. He was always there to hug me, walk with me, talk to me. I used to say when I got married, I was going to ask him to give me away because I had a bad relationship with my dad. I can't explain it, I just loved him, loved spending time with him. He was one of those people you could be in the room with and you could both be quiet together and not feel awkward or like you had to fill the empty air with emptier words. You could just be there. It sounds like nothing, but I think its important to be able to just "be" and recharge and to be able to do that without being alone. . . Like I said, I can't explain it.

I miss him. It felt a little hollow going to his home without him being there, like there was an echo you just couldn't hear. And I wanted to hear it.

I regret that I didn't make time to visit sooner and introduce Izzy to him. I had 13 months and I didn't take advantage of it. I know I'll see him again and she will meet him one day in Heaven, and even though I know she'd never remember meeting him, I wish I had those memories of him, like I have the memories of him with Addy and Evie and me.

Recently, I have struggled with some allegations that were made against him. I didn't know how to reconcile the man I know and love with things he may have done long before I was born. I wish it hadn't taken his death to make me really think about it and realise that its irrelevant. I can't judge anyone based on what they might have done to others. I can only make decisions and judgements based on what I experience myself. I can only hope this lesson sticks with me better than the last one did. And I hope the last one sticks better, too.

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