Wednesday, 10 February 2015 — 4-Year Memorial of my grandfather’s passing
There are those moments in time when I am reminded that I am human. Today, I was reminded of that. I woke up very sad and crying that I missed my grandpa. My grandfather passed away four years ago of pancreatic cancer. I had been very angry with him for nearly a decade, in fact, that decade was the last ten years of his life. He had divorced my grandmother and had re-married. He had also, in that time, had another child in his 70s. As he approached his deathbed, he knew he was leaving a young child and a widow in this world and for that I was incredibly pissed off. The separation and divorce from my grandmother never bothered me. It was the taking sides. I couldn’t deal with it.
He used to show up at my parents house without calling. That is something I STILL hate that people tend to do and he also used to bombard himself over with “new” company, like his second wife. His second wife didn’t speak any English and that REALLY miffed me. I felt as though I had to cater to her because she was a guest, but I really didn’t want to accommodate the whore than broke up my grandparents’ marriage. I was lit with fire thinking about this union. When, they married, I remember erasing his number in my phone. I couldn’t deal. He called my mom one day and told her, “[we’d] always be [his] first family”. What is that about? I thought family had no boundaries. I guess it did.
About six months later, he told me his wife was pregnant. I remember hearing him on the phone and I couldn’t be happy for him. He was so old. Here was a 70-something man having a young child. He wasn’t going to live to raise his own child, I thought. I just couldn’t allow this to happen. I was not happy for him and I told him. HE became very upset with me and I hung up on him.
I remember the night his daughter was born. He called my phone and told me, “you have an aunt!” I thought to myself, “no. I do not. YOU have a daughter.” I was not claiming ownership of this little girl.
When he fell ill a couple years later, I refused to see him and he became gravely ill after that and was on hospice care. My mom was with him morning and night and rarely came home for seven weeks straight. I was in the middle of construction at the salon and had my eye on the prize of opening a my business. I would NOT go to him. He had a his NEW FAMILY. I was part of the first. He made that very clear.
The day my grandfather passed away, I remember one of my contractors calling and asking for a check for more supplies. I wrote the check and received a phone call that Rosendo had passed. He had been on my mind all day. I remember thinking, “if you’re waiting on me to release your soul, please go.” He had wanted to talk to me so badly. When I released that thought into the universe, my Blackberry lit up and I KNEW it was my mom on the other end informing me that my grandpa had died. I took the call and put the phone down. Nothing. My contractor walked into the salon I was working at. I handed him the check and began crying, “my grandfather just passed. Excuse me.” The contractor had no reaction. No condolence.
In that moment, I remember my grandfather always teaching us NOT to cry for more than three days when someone passes. He did not believe in extended mourning. He told us crying wouldn’t bring him back, so don’t. I saw my contractor’s lack of emotion and decided if a person could not express their sadness for me to me, that there was no sadness and I DID NOT cry.
Valentine’s Day came. As a young child, I looked forward to Valentine’s Day. We would decorate shoe boxes, cut out a slit and make it a mailbox at school and EVERYONE (boys and girls) gave you Valentine Cards. That was the one day everyone LOVED YOU. We buried my grandfather on Valentine’s Day. I was supposed to deliver part of his eulogy or at least be given time to speak. I discovered at his services that I was left off the program completely and that I was not going to be allowed to speak. In my place, some evangelical pastor took the time to ask us to accept Jesus in our hearts and be saved. If we didn’t accept Jesus as our savior and give up our sinful lives, I would never see Rosendo again. “He believed this”, the pastor said pointing at my grandfather’s casket.
“No he didn’t.” I thought.
I rolled my eyes. I was so pissed. This monkey took MY SPOT. Nothing heartfelt about telling me I was sinner and a non-Christian. It gave me yet ANOTHER reason NOT to cry. My grandfather was not an evangelical Christian. He was not judgmental. His widow wore Applebottom Jeans. I’m pretty sure SHE was NOT evangelical. I looked over at my uncle (who had put the eulogy program together) and gave him the evil eye. I read the program passed out by the funeral home. In the program, they listed my grandfather’s second wife and her two children and their daughter together. My grandmother, my mom, two uncles and all the grandchildren were never mentioned. There was ANOTHER reason NOT to cry for him.
I lamented for a year about being left out of the program and the eulogy delivery. I remember my grandfather asking me to come to his deathbed. I denied him this right. In turn, I was punished and was left out of the funeral and my family out of the obituary. Had I caused this by not coming to him? Was the evangelical God punishing me directly?
I really wondered if that happened.
The memories I have of my grandfather are of him always preening in the mirror and telling me that its good to have pride in oneself. Be sure to shower, wash your face, change your shirt and comb your hair. Wake up early, drink coffee, hold doors for women, offer to help and work seven days a week if you can handle it. I value those qualities to this day.
He was also very stern about complaining and crying: don’t do it, he said.
Well, grandpa, today I did. I missed you. I remembered the good. I remember not coming to you. I remember rebelling. I remember being part of the first family. I remember being denied the right to speak at your funeral. I remember it all. Mostly, I remember and regret not coming to your side when you needed me.