Family Matters

Burgess Eastwood passed away last week: Trent’s grandpa. He was 96 years old.

Trent watching Grandpa carve the turkey, Thanksgiving 2007.

Trent watching Grandpa carve the turkey, Thanksgiving 2007.

Trent has now lost both his grandma, Dorothy, and Burgess in the past year (they were married for 75 years, FYI). He was ready for it, but still, it’s no fun. 

It’s especially no fun when you’re as attached to your grandparents as Trent and I are. You see, we are both lucky enough to have kept a full set of living grandparents into our late thirties.

And we took advantage of that fact.

Trent called his grandmother, Dorothy, every Sunday afternoon. We sought advice from both sets of grandparents on everything from marriage to home improvement to politics to houseplants; we rarely made a life decision without our grandparents’ counsel.

Trent and Grandpa working on a project together, just after Grandma's passing, spring 2015.

Trent and Grandpa working on a project together, just after Grandma’s passing, spring 2015.

It feels very strange that what was a set of four just over a year ago, is now just two. And certainly in the not too distant future, all four will exist only in our memories…

It’s an odd coincidence that both last year, the week Dorothy passed, and this year, the week Burgess passed, we were in Detroit, with my grandparents. Both times we feared my grandmother, Lucy, might be about to leave us. Last year she didn’t; this year, though, she very nearly did, and we are glad we were there. We’re pretty certain at this point we won’t see her again.

Saying goodbye to Grandma Lucy at the hospital on our last morning in Detroit.

Saying goodbye to Grandma Lucy at the hospital on our last morning in Detroit.

It might be because Trent and I both lost our fathers at a young age – we both didn’t get the chance to say our goodbyes the way we wanted – but being with our grandparents as they near the end has been hugely important to us. It’s the reason we made so many trips to Fresno at the end of Dorothy’s life, to just sit on the porch with her, to listen to her tell stories from a million years ago and correct Burgess when he tried to insert some little recollection.

Trent and his beloved grandmother.

Trent and his beloved grandmother.

It’s the reason Trent left work early and raced to be with Burgess at Aunt Judy’s in Palo Alto a few nights ago, when he heard he might not have much longer.

It’s why we bought last-minute flights to Detroit and kept them even after Burgess passed, choosing to go be with the still-living, when my mom told me my grandmother was beginning to die of chronic bowel obstruction and was asking to see me.

Grandpa Sam and Grandma Lucy, sleeping, during our visit home this week.

Grandpa Sam and Grandma Lucy, sleeping, during our visit home this week.

I remember the morning my father died very clearly. I remember my mother coming in my bedroom at 5:00 AM, telling me they were taking dad to the hospital. I remember my decision NOT to get up and say goodbye to him. A decision I made in fear, in sadness, or in just plain sleepiness – I don’t know. But I made it.

And for 23 years now, I have regretted it. Every day of my life.

So when mom woke me at 4:00 AM under near-identical circumstances yesterday morning to tell me my grandmother was going back to the hospital, asking me did I want to say goodbye – I didn’t hesitate. I had come there for precisely that moment.

I crawled into bed with grandma and I stayed with her until the ambulance came.

I will never regret that decision, at least.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

4 thoughts on “Family Matters

  1. Margaret Wisniewski says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandparents! I can add nothing more to this exquisite commentary. And never have regrets about not saying goodbye to your dad. He knew how you felt and those final few moments cannot erase the previous thousands of quality moments you spent with him. Maybe it was better that way. Remember him as he was. He loved you as much as you loved him. We all do!

  2. […] wearing his grandfather’s Stetson, which he inherited today as part of a treasure trove of Pendleton shirts and jackets, amazingly hand-tooled and […]

  3. […] was witty and beautiful and alive with an energy that old ladies don’t have, right up until I last saw her a month ago. She was drinking a beer, her hair looked amazing, and she was packing her fabulous one-liner […]

  4. […] We started the year off with bad health news for Lisa after ten great years of remission, then Grandpa Burgess died, then Grandma Lucy […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: