There will be much celebration, in the coming weeks and months, of Robin Williams’ life and career. But perhaps the best tribute to him would be if we all reached out to the troubled people in our lives and let them know that we are here for them.
I am flying out of Winnipeg. I said goodbye to my Grandpa and will likely not see him again. I don’t think that has really sunk in. When I left him in the hospital he was so alert and awake, it’s hard to reconcile that image of him with what the doctor/nurses are saying is going to happen to him in the weeks and possibly days ahead.
As each person left and said goodbye (nephews and nieces, family friends, his pastor) he would say “The Lord be with you” to each person. As I kissed him on the forehead and said goodbye, he said the same to me. I replied by saying “and also with you Grandpa”. I don’t really know if he knew that this was our final goodbye.
I told him I was looking forward to seeing him at his 95th birthday party in August. He smiled and laughed quietly. He’s easily tired and often short of breath so any verbal exchange takes a lot out of him.
As people came by, he would wake up to say hello. Sometimes he knew their names and recognized them, at other times, he struggled. When he did, my aunt would quietly whisper it to him.
When he said goodbye to Helen, his wife, as she left for home for night, he seemed more sad than usual. My mom thought this made him remember that he wasn’t going back home again – back to the apartment they shared and the life they had. He seemed to be almost crying to himself. There were no tears, I think he was too weak for that, but he closed his eyes and seemed to cry inside to himself.
Before we left for supper at my cousin’s house, I sat with him. Just my grandpa, my mom and I in the room.
I held his hand as he drifted off to sleep and I could feel him gripping my hand. I’d like to imagine in his dreams he was back in his bed on the farm, having a nap during a break at a family gathering. Looking forward to whatever my grandma was going to make for supper, the card games we’d play after dinner, and the laughter and fun of having the whole family together under one roof.
I wish he would see his 95th birthday in August, but I know the pneumonia will take him before then, if something else doesn’t fail him first.
I pray that his final days are filled with family and friends, smiles and cries. And that when he does finally go to sleep, I pray that he gets to enjoy the deepest, most comfortable sleep he’s had in recent years.
Just like the sleep I had with him many years ago as I curled up on the floor of the combine on a hot, fall day during harvest.
Update 2014-05-27 4:36 PM: My grandpa passed away peacefully in his sleep. Goodbye Grandpa.
Rarely do I watch Joe Biden give a speech or an interview without looking for some evidence, in his eyes or the lines of his face, of the fact that he lost half of his young family when he was 30 years old. It is inconceivable to me, always has been, but especially in the years since I became a father. For all his goofballism, Biden has gone through a crucible that I cannot imagine. And he did so when he was 30, an adult, already deeply invested in the life he was building.
My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch. And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him. For I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand.
I don’t know if it’s writer’s block exactly, but more like a life block. Too much has happened in life lately that it feels overwhelming to try to write something here. When I have blocks like this, I find it helps just to quickly write something – anything – so that I can overcome the block. So here it is. A quick mental dump. Feel free to move along if you’re looking for more Apple/tech thoughts.
My wife and I both buried a grandma last week. My wife’s grandma’s funeral on Monday and then my grandma’s on Tuesday. My grandma’s death was sudden and relatively unexpected. My wife’s grandma had been sick for a little while so it wasn’t a complete shock, but both equally sad to lose a mom, grandma and great-grandma. It’s interesting the way people respond when I tell them how both women died. Questions of “How old was she?”, “Was she sick?” “Is her husband still alive?” are all questions I would ask if I was in the same situation and is just part of how we cope with death.
You can read about my wife’s grandma via my wife’s sister’s blog post, 1922-2011. One quote I’ll pull from her post that could equally apply to my grandma is this:
Grandma was the anchor, the matriarch of the family. She always knew what was going on in each of her children and grandchildren (and great-grandchildren!)’s lives, and kept us all informed.
My grandma had an incredible memory for dates and the history of her family and friends. Birthdays, deaths, farm moves, and everything in between was recalled faster than you could Google it.
Shortly before my Grandma passed, we had just finished work on her memoirs which we had self-published through Lulu.com. We published it mainly for family and close friends, but you’re welcome to pick up a copy in either print or PDF format. (Whatever minor profits come from the sale of the book are going back to support MCC and other charities she supported.)
She was an amazing woman with incredible strength, faith in God and love for her family and those around her. I’m more than a little biased, but I think her story is worth reading even if you didn’t get the chance to know her.
I’ll finish by reposting what I read at my Grandma’s funeral as part of the program to highlight her story.
“The day was May 23rd, 1995.
As I entered my home that evening, I knew I was turning over another chapter in my life. My life would from this day forward be forever different than it had been for many years previous.
I had just returned from the hospital where my husband of 52 years, John, had passed away.
I would now be alone.
Yes, my children and grandchildren would come for a visit regularly but for the most part I would be alone.
It was one of those cruel realities of life. John and I had spent many years together and we knew one of us would more than likely pass away before the other, but it was still hard to believe it had actually happened to me.
It happened to my mother. She survived 37 years of widow hood. Now it was my turn.
I was alone.
God help me.
Lord, give me strength for each day. I knew the God who looked after my mother for all those years would also look after me.”
It’s with these words that Grandma Enns chose to start her memoirs. Nearly every person that I’ve shown her story to has teared up on page one. And that’s only part of her tremendous story.
My wife, Susan and I, marveled at the part of the story where Grandma finds out she’s having a baby – when she already has a 2 year old and 5 month old twins keeping her busy.
Somehow she managed to do it without the Internet, Starbucks, or a microwave.
You’d never know the hardships she endured by the joy and love she showed to everyone she encountered.
God did give her strength for each day, as He does for each of us on this day.
NSFW if you’re not allowed to watch two turtles getting it on.
I won’t embed any pictures here because you need to decide for yourself if you can look, but the photos from The New York Time’s Lens blog are disturbing, heart wrenching and unbelievable.
This paragraph nearly brought me to tears as I read it:
There were a lot of people just wandering around there, a lot of people just looking. We found this one guy who was sitting by the side and he just broke out crying. We asked him if he had any relatives there. He pointed out, to one of the morgue workers, a baby that was on top of the pile. The morgue worker went over and grabbed the baby by the arm and swung her, sort of carried her over by one arm and laid her down on the stomach of his wife. They had both died while he was at work. The building had collapsed.
The girl’s name was Christian Michaud, 10 months old, and her mother’s name was Lormeny Nathalie.
But where there is darkness, there is always light trying to shine through:
People are out on the street at night. It’s really hard to photograph because there’s no electricity. It’s pitch black. But all night you could hear them singing prayers. It’s pretty amazing the ways that people are dealing with this tragedy. It says a lot about the Haitian character. They are an amazing people.