Friday, January 18, 2013

gone, gone..

I need to get back to posting on my research activities, which have not ceased completely believe it or not. Next time, next time.

My grandfather, granddaddy, RSM, died Tuesday night. He was 92, born on the Ides of March in 1920. He was my last grandparent, my mother's father. Her mother, Elizabeth, who I will always say was probably the most important influence on the development of the contents of my mind, died almost 3 years ago at 85. My father's father died in summer of 2001, 89 years old. His mother died in 1998, 84.

My mother's parents were always closer to us, maybe because they were younger than my father's - by a decade - and had a lot more energy left. My father's parents could only tell me stories and talk with me; my mother's parents took me places and taught me things.

Elizabeth gave me books, told me about what she knew and where she'd been, took me to museums and historical sites all over the southeast, taught me to explore cities and the countryside and new towns, and to wonder where we and our ancestors had come from, and where all people and their cities and their civilizations had come from.

Granddaddy took me fishing on the rivers and lakes that he'd fished on since he was a boy - since before they had existed, in the case of those big TVA lakes, I guess. He tried to take me hunting, but I clearly wasn't interested. He took me camping and exploring in forests and mountains. He showed me how to interact with nature, and I don't think he ever knew how much of it stuck with me. I'm not a fisherman, but I know how to fish, and I know how to get around in the woods, and I'm at home in the outdoors. He was also a doctor and an artist. On the outside he was a cynic and a skeptic as pertained to human things, but he was always fascinated with nature, and with the human being and the human mind, and I think he was proud of me for becoming what I am. I know for certain that since I was little I learned to copy his personality, and my mother has commented on it positively and negatively, because he could be harsh and negative. I always wanted to be like him.

It was so strange to see him go, just like it was with Elizabeth, who was always so mobile and active and who spent her last year or so unable to get out of bed. Granddaddy, and I told him this the last time I saw him, was always the strongest person I ever knew, the model of strength, invincible even though I knew he was always getting injured in one way or another, always sick but always too strong for the sickness. But in his last years he lost his house and all of his health, and became thin and pale and weak, and finally he too was stuck in bed, but thankfully only for the last couple of months.

One of the last times I saw him, around Labor Day, I went to pick him up in Dunlap to bring him back to Kingston Springs to stay for a while. He said he wanted to start driving again, as if it were possible, and I think he must have known it wasn't, but also that he knew that to get out and get around was his only way of living, and that otherwise he had nothing left. He talked about his old life, basically the time before Elizabeth died, when he still painted and was still on his own, and had her to take care of and to take care of him. Then she went, and he sold his house and moved from place to place, and I kept thinking he was like a living ghost, and he knew it. I wish he could have lived forever, but nobody does.

So is this the best option we have? Live to be old, and watch as everything is subtracted from you, until you are zero. He had nothing left, he had given it all away or lost it or had it taken from him. I think I will always feel like he lost too much that we could have taken, or that we took things too early. He was more than any of us knew how to deal with, and we didn't know how to deal with his slowly fading away. His nurse called my mother early on Tuesday morning to say he was writhing in bed and laughing, and we all took that as a sign, properly, that he was almost finished. He was so tired, I've never seen anyone so tired...

So sad this week, so sad...

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