Friday, March 14, 2014

Ashes to Ashes

My grandfather passed away two weeks ago today. He'd been ill for several months, but it escalated pretty quickly. February 15th he went into the hospital with severe stomach pains and 1 day shy of two weeks later he was gone. I was very fortunate to have a close relationship with him. I spent a lot of time with him the last six months and especially during the two weeks he was in the hospital.

He told me he had no regrets about how he lived his life. 82 years and no regrets. I think that's a wonderful thing. He was himself right up to the end, cracking jokes and trying to make everyone else feel better. He was my favorite.

Since he passed I've stayed busy helping my grandmother settle some things, making final arrangements for him, etc. It's kept me from thinking too much about him being gone. I had a really hard time today, though.

He was very insistent that he didn't want a funeral. We had a wake - of sorts - the weekend he passed, but my grandmother had his body cremated as he wished, with no services planned. Today we were called to pick up his remains.

In 82 years, that man touched more people than he could ever have imagined. He always had a smartass comeback or dirty joke in his pocket, but he was also a no-bullshit kind of guy. The day before he passed his eye doctor stopped in to see him. He wasn't doing well at all then, but he roused when she came in the room. She said "you know you're my favorite, right?" and he said "I better be". She was sincere when she said it, too, and I know she isn't the only one. He was amazing.

Which is why I think I was so affected today when we picked up his ashes and they handed us a small cardboard box. Those ashes don't tell the story of the man he was. No one looking at the nondescript brown box could guess at the life of the man or the love he gave his family. 57 years of marriage and 7 kids. 34 grandchildren and 12 great-grandkids. Years of hard work. Pain and anger. Suffering and heartbreak. Honesty and integrity. Joy and laughter. Love.

82 years of life reduced to 5lbs of dust.

7 comments:

Tracy said...

Oh Holly! I had no idea. I think the last time we'd talked about him he was back in the hospital. I'm SO sorry to hear of his passing. I know you loved him very much and I'm KNOW he knew that.

He will be remembered for all of his awesomeness and that's what you will carry with you throughout your life - not that 5lbs.

{{BIG HUG}}

Marg said...

So sorry to hear about your grandfather Holly.

He will always be part of your life, not just that last memory.

Rowena said...

Big hugs sweetie. Super big ones.

Lori said...

I've always loved how you talk about your grandfather. Such love and respect. Sending lots of love your way.

--Sunrise-- said...

I am so sorry to hear that Holly. I hope your family (especially your grandmother) is finding the strength they need. I remember when my great-grandfather passed away thinking how lonely nights must seem for my great-grandmother.. :(

Your thoughts are beautifully expressed. 82 years of life being reduced to 5lbs of dust will never do it justice, but isn't it a sad, lonely truth of life that we all go back to the earth we came from.. :(

My condolences to you and yours.

Rhian Cahill said...

(((HUGS)))
I'm sorry to hear about your loss Holly.
My grandfather was the same way. He never met anyone he didn't consider a friend. Sadly he's been gone 18 years now and I still miss him.

Lynda the Guppy, aka FishWithSticks said...

*HUGS* I'm so sorry for your loss. I loved my Grandfather and was very close to him. We lost him when I was about 14 and I still miss him even now.

I'm so glad you and as many years as you have with him. I wish you could have had 87 more.

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