December 04, 2005

October 6, 1914 - December 3, 2005

I awoke this morning to a blanket of snow on the yard, to more snow falling, and to the grim news heralded by the blinking light on the answering machine that my grandfather died last night. My mother didn't leave the news on the machine, but I knew why she was calling at 11:47 p.m. Why else?

I am curiously empty.

I told the kids this morning over breakfast. The Girl Child looked up from her oatmeal (with pomegranate seeds, pretty yummy). She wanted to know: "why did he go so early, before the new baby came?" I explained it was just his time, that he was very old and very sick.

We visited him yesterday, the Girl Child and Boy Child and me. They played in his room and gave him kisses. I cupped his head in my hands, peered into his beautiful eyes and told him that I loved him when I left. His eyes were odd. Multi-hued and strangely translucent and terribly fragile looking. He began to tremble during our visit and I went and found another blanket to tuck around his shoulders. I am happy that I was able to provide something for him. My mother thinks that he was waiting for me to visit so he could go. She bases this on the fact that he told me, when I asked how he was, that he was going to be going soon. I don't know. Perhaps. I am sceptical.

I wrote about his birthday last year (2004), if you are curious.

I suspect it hasn't hit me yet. I am, not curiously empty, but painfully empty. The grief, when it deigns to arrive, will be convulsive. It will not, I suspect, be grief for him as much as it will be grief for me. When someone dies, someone who was so intimately involved and such an integral part of your life, he takes you with him. Your life, a part of it, has died with him. The reminiscences are gone with him, the shared memories are gone. The shared memories have gone from a dialogue to a monologue. Monologues are lonely. His memories, his views of our experiences together, have returned to the earth.

I'm also going to be feeling bereft. His guidance, his advice, his protective and sheltering embrace and presence is gone. I feel less protected just by his no longer being.

My wife is reading about shiva, sitting next to me, in the Jewish Book of Why. She just said, "this is so confusing". Welcome to the practice of Judaism.

I may write more later. It is all too fresh.

I need to go take the wine off the stove. I am reducing a bottle of wine to a cup in order to make a wine reduction to braise some short ribs in. That's what we seem to do in my family. People die, the survivors cook.

I have not spellchecked this.

Posted by Random Penseur at December 4, 2005 09:37 AM | TrackBack

Oh, honey, hugs, warmth, and friendly love headed your way.

Rest in peace, Grandfather.

Posted by: Christina at December 4, 2005 10:23 AM

Peace be with you, dear heart. To live well, to have loved and been loved. We should all aspire to the greatness he achieved.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 4, 2005 11:47 AM

I can't find a single word that won't sound trite. The overwhelming urge is to open arms for a hug.

And, since I cannot even accomplish that, I shall send a prayer or two for you, your aching heart and your much-loved grandfather.

With love,

Posted by: Margi at December 4, 2005 12:55 PM

margi - i agree. sigh....
i have been sitting here trying to type something.....anything. were both so blessed to have eachother.
feeling...incredibly sad for you..and those you love...thought the word sad is terribly inadequate. one gives a damn about spell check.
sending you thoughts of courage and strength.

Posted by: sn at December 4, 2005 01:11 PM

I, too, am struggling to find the words...just know you and your family are in my thoughts.


Posted by: CJ at December 4, 2005 03:03 PM

My friend, not that long ago, only a few years really, I lost my grandmother. From what you have written here, your relationship with your grandfather was much like mine with my grandmother. In fact, the end is so very similar that it has brought back many of those memories for me. Time has allowed the loss to recede and most of the joy to remain. One of the things I did was to write one of her eulogies. As difficult as that was, it did help to start the process of moving forward into a new era of my life. Perhaps such a process would be a good thing for you, but you must be the judge of that.

My thoughts are with you.

Posted by: Eric at December 4, 2005 04:17 PM

I'm not sure why it just popped into my head, but I'm remembering watching Ronald Reagan lie in state at the Capitol. The parade of visitors filed through slowly and in silence. It may have been c-span because there was no commentary, just people passing through. After a few minutes the silence was broken by a baby crying. I took in that moment and smiled. In the center of the screen was the casket containing the formal vessel of the expired life; around it circled the mourners, the living; and off camera and reverberating through the rotunda was the voice of life just beginning ultimately created, like even a giant redwood, out of thin air and sunlight.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at December 4, 2005 05:52 PM

I am very sorry, RP.

Posted by: nic at December 4, 2005 07:30 PM

I read your blog regularly and while I have never commented, I have enjoyed and been enriched by your writing.
You said in this post that he has gone and taken a piece of you with him. But I would suggest that as long as you live, a piece of him lives in you as well.
I hope that thought brings a small touch of comfort.
Be well.

Posted by: Amy at December 4, 2005 07:40 PM

I am truly sorry for your loss...

Posted by: Sacramento Republicrat at December 5, 2005 12:22 AM

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm also impressed by your courage in writing through your grief. When my grandfather, who was one of my best friends, passed last year, I didn't write about it... except to write him a letter that was published in the program at his funeral. It seemed very inadequate to me then as it does now. But it was a start, much like your latest entries have been a start. Your loving words about your grandfather are a wonderful tribute to him. One day, I hope to find the right words to pay tribute to mine. I hear an echo of my experience in what you've said. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Posted by: Turtleherder at December 5, 2005 10:30 AM


I'm so very sorry!

G.. bless you and yours.

Posted by: dee at December 5, 2005 11:04 AM

My thoughts and prayers are also with you and all your family, RP. He will always be in your heart. As you are in his. Remember everything. That way he will never be far away.
In sympathy,

Posted by: jules at December 5, 2005 11:52 AM

My sincerest condolences RP. Hugs, thoughts and prayers are sent your way.

There is a question that the people of my culture ask when a loved one passes. They ask who is it harder for; the one who passes or those who remain. I have always felt it was those who remain for the one who passed is at peace now.

I am truly sorry. Cherish the memories…..

Posted by: Wicked H at December 5, 2005 12:56 PM

Very sorry for your loss, RP. The best to you and your family.

Posted by: MCNS at December 5, 2005 01:10 PM

I am sorry to hear of your loss. May the future be kind.

Posted by: owlish at December 5, 2005 02:12 PM

I am so sorry, my friend. Take good care of yourself and all those you love.

Posted by: Kathy at December 5, 2005 06:01 PM

RP - May the Lord bless you and keep you and yours:

Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

Pax tibi, my friend.

Posted by: Mark at December 5, 2005 07:57 PM

It wasn't unexpected, yet it makes the reality no easier to comprehend. The void, the silence and the thoughts will come.

It is then that my thoughts and prayers will be with you.

Posted by: Rob at December 5, 2005 10:51 PM

So sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Kelly at December 5, 2005 10:52 PM

I'm saddened by this news, RP, and my thoughts go out to you. Life is such an extreme ride, I was thinking this on the weekend as I walked the same hospital corridors I had walked every day for a solid 2 months, 3 years ago when my other son was born. From one moment it can go from the amazing miracle of birth to the sadness of souls parting forever. Giddy teenage love, commitment, hard work, hardship, and pain to name but a few of the things we subscribe to when we take those first blinky looks outside the womb.

Is the trick is to be enough to be remembered? Maybe. I strongly believe your grandfather will never die, his spirit is obviously in you and your wonderful children.

Posted by: Oorgo at December 6, 2005 01:52 AM

Oh RP! {{{{many hugs}}}} I've been sick, sorry to be so late paying my respects.

You wrote: That's what we seem to do in my family. People die, the survivors cook.

When my father died suddenly when I was young, people brought food for days and days. In addition to that, my mother and grandmother cooked and cooked. I guess it helped with the pain.

We ate a lot of frozen casseroles for several months. :-)

When my mother died from cancer years ago, I had cried more in the months *before* she passed away than after. The night she actually died, I didn't even cry. I felt that same curious "emptiness". And a tired resignation.

I mean, I'd already been grieving for months, you know? By the time she finally passed, I just didn't have the tears left anymore.

Let your grief be whatever it's going to be. And I'm glad you left comments open. I hope we bring you some small comfort. :-) {{{hugs again to you and your family}}}}

Posted by: amber at December 6, 2005 11:25 AM

I am so very sorry for your loss R.P. May Hashem grant you comfort and healing.

I do think people sometimes know when they are about to leave this world. I think your mother is probably right. What a blessing that you and your children were able to spend time with him.

hugs to you...

Posted by: Rachel Ann at December 6, 2005 12:51 PM

Just stopping back in to read this news. So sorry for your loss. I will keep your family in my thoughts.

Posted by: Oddybobo at December 7, 2005 11:31 AM
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