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