yesterday, august 7th, my maternal grandfather everett alther passed away at the good-life-lived-old-age of 98.
until january of this year my grandpa lived in his house, drove his car and was completely independent. there were several occasions when i would be home visiting and inherently get ‘stuck’ behind him driving to visit my mom. it might have taken him 23 minutes to go 2 miles, but damn that van stayed directly in between the lines, used it’s turn signal perfectly and even yielded when appropriate.
recently while my visiting my grandpa in the assisted living home, my aunt suzanne shared a conversation they had…
you see, there was a ship that had come to pick grandpa up. but he was worried that he would miss it. aunt suzanne told him not to worry; he had a ticket to board and the ship would wait until he was ready before it set sail.
even though grandpa’s passing was expected it left me in a wake of sadness. the ending of an era; the last of my grandparents to leave this world. in his wake, generations of amazing people; children, grand children, great grand children, life-long friends, all better, luckier, richer for being connected to such a great man.
when i learnd of his death yesterday i stood on my deck. the wind billowing around me, moving the wind chimes and filing the suddenly thick space with the sweet melody of life. my flowers lush with blossoms, the sun bright and warm, and my son, with my grandpa’s name-sake, making my heart swell with pride and joy.
today, and many days to follow i promise to eat ice cream in your honor.
and today and every day to follow i will be gratefull for your existence and for being my grandfather. for working hard to raise six children, for knowing when to stop, kick up your heels and pick up your trumpet. for leaving behind a legacy of people who truly love each other; who even in our inevitable dysfunction know the true meaning of family and appreciate the unique bonds we share.
yesterday, dear grandpa, your ship sailed.
i dreamt of you walking up the ramp, friends and family cheering for you, welcoming you aboard. grandma squealed and cried, oh la la! when she saw your face. you grabbed her hands and led her round the deck dancing to a the melody of the big bands.
To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.
- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
to one of the most well-organized minds i’ve had the pleasure of knowing, enjoy your next adventure. i look forward to the day you are welcoming me aboard your ship, eyes bright and smile wide with a hello, my hannah louise!.