Sunday, February 11, 2024

Dear Grandpa: 2024 Edition


Dear Grandpa,

I was originally going to wait until Father's Day to write to you. As you have picked up, I try to alternate between Father's Day and your birthday to write you. Yet, I know you understand the timing because of who has now come to visit you.

Yes, I know your birthday is tomorrow, but I'll be working tomorrow and won't have the downtime to compose this on the day of.

She has missed you for a while. Every year, except when her health really started taking a huge decline, we would chat on your birthday and share our favorite memories of you. The year it happened (2011) hit the hardest because it was a few days before Mother's Day. She hadn't felt joy on Mother's Day or any holiday since, especially the ones you enjoyed the most.

For me, it was tough to get into the holiday spirit. Not only because you weren't around to do the holiday things ... it was deeper than that. When I was married, he never cared about those traditions, so it was a struggle to feel joy for two. I also struggled with a new way to invite the essence of what your presence meant to me during that time.

It was just this past year that I possessed any semblance of spirit. Taking part in the meals. Decorating the house and setting up the tree. I didn't have the time (or perhaps not the patience) to decorate outside of the house like you would do from year to year. I settled for putting lights around the border of the inside windows of the living room. Like the custom of you and Grandma, I put the decorations, lights, and tree away for use the following year.

I know you're wondering how everyone is holding up. I am going to do my best in my assessment, although it may not be accurate. I can only go by what I observed and what I felt.

Aunt Cat didn't make an appearance. It was not because she didn't want to; she didn't get the medical clearance. Yet, I feel it was for the best. I think it would have been too much for her. Some of her children and grandchildren made the journey.

Uncle Timmy is coping the best way he can. As usual, he was well put together ... a mix of traditional and contemporary. I am very proud of him (and I know you are too). I hope he follows my advice and really takes his health more seriously. I don't want him dying of something that can be prevented and/or well managed (aka diabetes).

He really stepped up for Grandma, but the majority of the recognition should go to Kayla.

It was unfortunate how much stress was put on Kayla. I am thankful for all that she did and hope that she can get her health (in all areas) back on track now that Grandma is no longer in pain. I want her to recognize that even strong women need time to rest and recuperate. If not, she is going to get depleted at the very time the rest of the family needs her.

I sense that, in terms of pain, Uncle Butch is impacted the most. Like you, he isn't one to express a lot of emotion. He bottles a lot of things, but his eyes tell the story. I just didn't want Grandma to be in pain anymore, and she had gotten so frail ... it would put her body through too much to resuscitate her. I hope in time that he sees my viewpoint as mercy.

There were reasons (and you know what I mean) why he couldn't devote the time he needed to Grandma. Grandma did confide in me her feelings over the situation. I just hope that he doesn't let those restraints keep him from bonding with his remaining siblings and others in the family while there's time.

My mom is a close second or perhaps tied. Her pain is two-fold. She lost Junior around this time a year ago, and she's still grieving that. I understood that grief can cause separation so when she told me she needed time and didn't circle back right away, I was not feeling any way about it. It was best to give the space she wanted until I received some sign that we could pick up where we left off with "the new beginning."

There is a shift happening. She's making moves to return to MS, and if she feels like that is what she needs to do, then so be it. I just hope that she has realistic expectations as it pertains to others healing from previous deeds. Only Spirit can make moves to advance the processes of reconciliation, forgiveness, healing, and the like. It doesn't happen overnight, and she has to be okay if the resolution she seeks from certain people doesn't happen.

Grandpa, it did take a while for me to get to this place with Mom. It did not occur when you requested it, but I don't think she was healed enough, and I was not ready. This beginning may not have been the one in her image, but it is the one that is in mine. I am okay with it and am taking things one step at a time and one day at a time.

As far as my remaining siblings, I'm open, but there has to be sincerity and reciprocity there. Truthfully, I'd rather there be distance if there is some unresolved trauma that needs to be worked out as it pertains to me. Yes, I have been absent, but I don't know what narrative (told or preconceived) they've clung to as it pertains to me. When they are ready, I'll be around, but I'm not going to push things just because there's been a recent loss.

The homegoing for Grandma was lovely. Your favorite daughter-in-law came to pay her respects and to give her thoughts. Some people came whom I didn't expect to show; others I recognized because they came when you passed on. The weather was crappy ... downpour during the entire thing. I did see her casket lowered but not sure who else came. I left before I got too drenched.

I pray that the healing you and Grandma wanted for our family comes to pass. I did my part, and I let my stake in the land and the house go.

I didn't want any contention, and since nothing was in writing (except you told practically everyone that the house and the land the house is on was to go to me), I felt I would experience resistance. Resistance would not have done well in brokering peace.

Also, there has been a lot of damage to the house itself, so it would be up to them to find the resources to fix it and make it more liveable while disposing of the other items in there.

In addition, I have created quite a life here. If the circumstances had mimicked 2011, then it would have been up for advisement. I have quite a bit going for me; mainly, a new essence of home and family.

Yes, I may have to find another Southern state in which to retire (no, definitely not retiring in NJ), but that's what stashing money in the retirement fund and other resources are for. A small spot of land and a mobile home (not sure what the new name for them is now). Funny enough, they are frowned upon in NJ, but it is a smart investment if you are down South.

Grandpa, it was nice talking with you. Try not to eat all the Queen Anne's chocolate-covered cherries in one shot. As a matter of fact, offer some of the candy you usually hide under the car seat to Grandma. I think she'd appreciate it.

Love always,

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