I remember the day my great-grandfather died. It’s not like it was unexpected, after all, the man was 101, but it was because he was 101 that I had thought he wasn’t going to die. He was the oldest person I knew, and I thought that he would beat the Guinness world record and die at about 130. Sometime nice and far away. It made sense; when he turned 100, my mom sent him a birthday card and he wrote her back a letter. He called his walker his Corvette, and the only reason he didn’t have his drivers license was because they had made him give it up when he was in his nineties (“I’ve had it for this long; I’m going to keep it!”).
On his last day, my grandparents -my mom’s parents- went to visit him around 5 in the evening. He was very weak and tired, but his mind was as sharp as ever, and they all enjoyed themselves. After they left, the sun was setting, and he asked the nurse to help him sit in a chair facing the window so that he could watch it. When she came back a few minutes later, he was gone.
When I went to the viewing, I couldn’t go pay my respects. I couldn’t bear to see his body, life gone out of it and sagging with the victorious pull of gravity and time. It would have made me vomit, or want to. My parents gave me odd looks when I said I wouldn’t go up, but they didn’t understand and I didn’t tell them. I didn’t want to weep, there in full view and hearing of all these relatives who I didn’t know and who weren’t making much noise themselves.
On his hundredth birthday, all his descendants except for a handful came to celebrate with him. We filled a hall, hundreds of us wanting to wish our father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather a happy birthday. Someone had made a video recounting his life, and we watched it and my respect for him grew and grew and grew. He grew up in modern-day Ukraine and, when the communists took over, he was married and his wife was pregnant with their first child. One Sunday, not long after the Bolshevik revolution, he felt very strongly that he had to leave the country that day. He told his family, but they told him that he shouldn’t. It was the Lord’s day; he should rest. He would be able to leave the next day. If he had listened to them, I wouldn’t have been born because the next day the borders closed, no-one in or out, and only he and his pregnant wife, of all his and her family, managed to escape. My great-grandfather was a legend, and legends don’t die. But he did.
March 02, 2012
I'm considering introducing myself to new people as
"Thea, fan of Firefly" for this very reason.
I'm ridiculously interested in a lot of things that make about as much sense together as putting wings on a rock and throwing it off a cliff so that it can fly, except my interests don't generally result in broken windows. With that in mind, I was thinking the other day about everything I've written on here and I decided I would write about something really random that I happen to really enjoy. It comes with just about one of the geekiest confessions I'll ever make (unless someone can find a really fun excuse to use trigonometry, because I have this odd fascination with calculating things that have to do with triangles), and those of you who have not yet met me in real life have never yet heard me talking about this. Wanna try and guess what it is?
I've got time.
Okay, I'll tell you. :)