My family and I have had a rough week. I thought I wouldn’t say anything about this here. I could write something normal like “Hi, I bought a dress,” but I’m horrible at disguising my feelings. My idea of acting happy when I’m sad is to talk stiffly about the weather.
I wanted to let you all know that I flew home to the US a week ago because my maternal grandfather, Bertrand C. Mills, was sick with pancreatic cancer. He passed away in a VNA Hospice house Monday morning, really peacefully. My mother and grandmother were right there with him, and my Dad, Aunt Pat and I arrived within minutes.
My mother, by the way, she has been so strong and amazing throughout these last seven months; it takes my breath away.
One memory that I’ll never forget is sitting in the kitchen of Hospice house eating takeout sushi and laughing with her. She and I have this thing where we are frequently defeated by inanimate objects--seatbelts on airplanes, to name one example. It is a true fact that I cannot open 88% of the door knobs I meet. One of us starts laughing at our state of pathetic-ness and we can’t stop.
This time we were being pummeled by stupid cancer, so it didn’t take much. Like, the fact that my grandfather drank a liter of water in 30 minutes while under my watch, more water than he had had in the last three days, and he just kept drinking? And then he asked for more? As I recounted that story to my Mom, it was enough to bring the tears rolling and the foggy glasses, we laughed so hard.
Another thing I’ll never forget is the last time I spoke to my grandfather and he responded clearly; it was Saturday evening.
[His words were audible, but often incoherent in those last few days, a little bit like talking with someone who was dozing off next to you on the couch.]
I squeezed my grandfather’s hand and said, “Poppa, I forgot to tell you: my blog was in the Wall Street Journal!”
He looked me right in the eye and said, “No it wasn’t.”
Good lesson from my Poppa: DON’T BRAG.
When I think of my grandfather, I think of what a gentleman he was, right up to the end when he was too weak to even open his eyes, but would pucker up his lips for every new visitor that came to say hello. We've been hurting a lot over this last week, and I know he wouldn't want that. It's just that we will miss him so much.