We were supposed to be recovering together.
As I was in surgery to repair my separated pelvis on Aug. 24, my husband’s grandfather was in surgery to remove a cancerous mass from his colon. The last time I saw him before surgery day I told him we would get through it. He smiled and pat my hand.
I honestly believed that day that the 82-year-old would recover from his surgery and be able to make decisions about treatment of his cancer. I knew we each would have the great support of the family he built with his wife of 56 years. We each would have good doctors. And will.
The first, and last, time I saw him after surgery he was a different man. Happy to see me up and about in the chair. And obviously glad to be surrounded by the family he treasured. But he was in hospice care and knew he wouldn’t get better.
Grandpa reminded me a lot of my Grandpas, who passed several years ago. All three had a tremendous sense of humor and wry wit. All three loved their families and were models of personal responsibility and service. He even shared the first name and occupation (police officer) of one of them.
In the more than three years I knew him, Grandpa truly became my Grandpa. On evenings when my husband and I would stop by to say hello, he shared war stories from his years as a homicide detective. He knew and respected that my career as a journalist meant I wasn’t shy about asking questions and could stomach the truth. But he didn’t share grizzly stuff. That wasn’t his style. As the three of us sipped sodas in the living room he would ask how we were doing and smile at our happiness. We enjoyed his company. And I loved hearing stories of the trips the two of them had taken.
The day we told him we would be married, his face lit up. He asked about a ring, I didn’t want one. We had better things to do with the money so I’m considering my new iPod my ring, we told him. He almost didn’t accept it, offering to give my husband the ring he had given his dear wife.
He loved us both and he loved that we found each other. I will be forever grateful for that.
My Dad walked on in the time that passed between our engagement and our wedding day. I asked Grandpa to stand in for my Dad and he said: “Sweetheart, I’ll do whatever you want as long as I don’t have to wear a tuxedo.”
He wore a blue shirt and dress pants and we all had a great time. Grandpa and I, my husband and his mother danced to “Unforgettable,” the version where Nat and Natalie Cole duet.
In the days since Grandpa walked on I have thought a lot about my Dad and my three grandpas. I am a lucky girl, and a better person, for knowing each of them.
Thank you, Grandpa, for everything.