I wish I could talk to my nan now, and ask her more focussed questions about life. I want 35 year old me to see life through her eyes. I did not have these questions in my early 20s. Did I learn everything I could learn with the time I had? I don’t think I came close.
It’s 12:36 on a Thursday night, but it’s okay because this is holiday time. It should be okay at any time; feelings are important. I’m here, tears in my eyes, thinking about my grandfather.
As I type, my grandmother is sleeping in her bed, where she’s been for over five years since my grandfather died. At first I wrote ‘passed on,’ but I’m still not exactly sure where or what we pass on to.
I’m sitting here wondering what my pop would think of of what I’m doing in my life today. If he’d approve of my choices, my work, my hair, my truck, every last little thing. I know he’d poke fun at me for still being fat haha. I can joke about it now, but it was a tough pill to swallow growing up.
I remember shortly after he died I visited his shed alone. That’s where I go to remember him, where I remember him best… leaning over the counter tinkering with a wood project. I walked into the shed, no longer alive but still with the same scent, and the floor made a big crack sound. I burst into laughter then and there, that was his way of saying, “yep, still fat I see.”
I don’t know why all of this is coming to me now at this time. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because my Nan’s health is on a steady decline and we’re all pretty powerless to stop it. I have very fond memories of both my nan and pop, ones I’ll hang on to as the days get harder.
When I was leaving home for the first time (my failed attempt at art school circa 2004) pop wanted to speak to me alone. This was a buzz amongst the family because he never made such a request outright. I recall the blisteringly hot day sitting down on the steps outside, Aunt Lucy peering through the storm door. Pop took my hand and told me to ‘be a good girl,’ and handed me a roll of quarters. He said, “I want you to promise me one thing,” and I said, “name it,” and he said, “Never ever ever, ever, start smoking.”
Some of you might have read that and had a little chuckle, some of you might have taken it super seriously; me, I took it seriously. I’ve never had a cigarette in my life. My pop smoked and chewed tobacco for many many years and this caused him to have severe lung problems. While it was not his cause of death, it caused him to have breathing problems and he suffered every day because of it.
There are things that come to my mind daily that make me thankful for the lessons my grandparents taught me. Sometimes it’ll be something simple; i’ll be standing in the doorway at the bar where I work on Friday’s and someone will blow smoke in my face or make a rude comment, and I’ll hear nan say, “turn a deaf ear to it…” or I’ll be preparing dinner for myself and I’ll notice I’m timing my ingredients and stirring things the exact way my nan taught me.
Tonight turned into much more of an emotional time than I thought it would. As I sit here re-reading this blog post and thinking back on all the good and bad times my family has shared over the years I always come back to one thing: appreciation. I would not be who I am, where I am today if it had not been for the love of two ironbound Labradorians, two soft spoken, secretly funny, forever caring young people. I will always love my grandparents because they are me. And I am them. These are the things that I know.