Monday, October 5, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
There'll be two dates on your tombstone/ And all your friends will read 'em/ But all that's gonna matter is that little dash between 'em...
Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of my Grandfather's death. I had been pondering IF I was going to go to the Cemetery yet another year and put the rock on the tombstone to say I was there (something my old Irish family traditionally does when they visit the dead). I had wrestled with it because last year when it was 20 years that Grandpa had been passed my Aunt Eleanor was still alive (my mother's youngest sister) and now she is buried almost right along side my Grandpa. I have been to the cemetery this past July 5th and already experienced her tombstone and I trembled then. It was surreal to me that SHE was in the ground ceasing to exist.
Back to my Grandpa. Grandpa had been THE most important man in my life until I met my husband. Grandpa was always there for me. Towards the end of his life we were even more close than when I was growing up. He loved my husband and was thrilled I had gotten married to a "nice man" like my husband. He loved his great grandchildren and wanted daily reports on their progress. Hence the Daily AM phone calls, always following up on the children, how and what I was doing, advising me and researching whatever needed to be found out for me or the children. My Grandpa was one of a kind. He did not have a college education because in those days you did not get scholarships for track and football and his immigrant parents made their way here, thats where it stopped. So he shared what he had with us.
By the time I was in my teens I knew so much about WWII. We sat for hours as Grandpa explained in detail the different battles that had occurred. Some combat he partook in. The Kamikazee he shot out of the air that could have sunk the whole battle ship he was stationed on.
You see Grandpa was an unusual soldier. He went into the War at 30 years old and 3 children home. He said every day as he went to work in NYC while the war was going on; people stopped him wherever he was and asked WHY a big strapping young man like him was not serving his country. He was torn between country and Family. Then they were starting to call men in and his draft number was coming up soon, so he enlisted in the Navy rather than be drafted. He was so upset but rather than be put wherever the military decided to assign him, he signed up. He felt the navy would give im a better chance in coming home alive to take care of his 3 daughters and wife.
Fastforward, he obviously made it and lived to have granchildren and great granchildren.
I grew up with an unstable (unaffectionate towards me) alcoholic father that was unpredictable in all things. My alcoholic father singled me out to corporal punish and make me an example all the time. He loved my sister because she was this little delicate blond who idolized him no matter what he did to me, my mom , her or my brother. I became the defender and the confronter and my Grandpa did not know the full scope of things that happened to me until I was much older. When my parents split, I had been traumatized because I witnessed and stopped my Father from murdering my mother and my baby brother when I was 6 years old.
After that horrible day, I had closed up to all male affection. It took years for me to even allow my Grandpa to hug me. He worked hard during this time to draw me out and respected my space. He knew that I had been violated emotionally and physically and it would take time to reach me if at all.
So.....We played endless word games and we drew together on the heavy cardstock he brought back from the book bindery. He always brought all kinds of books for me to read without covers on of course, because thats what had to happen to the discarded books before they left the factory. He always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to do because I was a thick Irishman LOL. Todays age it means stubborn and I have also been told a steamroller by others. I guess my Grandpa chose to see this as a positive attribute of mine that some see as an exhaustive detriment.
He always cheered me on with any accomplishment whether it be scholastically, sports, writing awards etc. He made me feel valued, respected and that it mattered that I was even born.
This is how Grandpa affected my life and I am just a small piece of the dash on the headstone.
That dash on the headstone between his birthday and his death represents so much life. Its amazing that when all is said and done, a DASH can be so powerfull, so final and so cold.