Monday, December 6, 2010

Nostalgia and Requiem

This time of year makes me nostalgic. As the cold and Christmas set in, as the last of the turkey and stuffing get consumed or thrown out, a countdown, of sorts, starts.

My grandpa and I were very close. He made no bones about me being his favorite. After he died, I used to dream about him being at family events, Christmas and such, but I was the only one who could see him, who knew he was there. He died December 10, 1999 and even though I do my best to ignore the date, celebrating his birthday, August 10, instead, there’s still something ticking like a time bomb in my head, ticking down the days. He was the best of all of us and death is roughest on those left behind. Our family is not particularly good at letting go and far from the best about acknowledging our loss and moving on from it. I still compare every guy I date to my grandpa and it’s unfair because who can live up to the angelic memory imposed on the dead? In truth, my grandpa was active, vibrant, with a temper to match and beer or whiskey for anyone who came to visit at the house. He worked hard, he had to. His father kicked him out of the house when he was fourteen and he finished high school, something few did in the 1930s and 40s, while he lived and worked the farm for his aunt, in the house I currently live in. It’s hard to imagine that my kids won’t know him, that they won’t share those memories of him with me. It’s still hard to fathom that I’ll never see him again, that I’ll never be able to drive him around the way he joked about, or that I never got to have a beer with him. He’ll never comment on my cows; and he would have loved having them around. And he would have listened and sympathized with any problem I came to him with.

It’s harder sometimes I think to be one left behind, to feel the vacuum of those empty shoes, and see that while the space may be filled it, the puzzle piece is not the original, but instead one cut to fit. And you feel the weight from the family, leaning toward the center, most unaware that there’s a space left at all.

And the countdown ticks on.