Timing…

Timing is everything.

Had a good chat with one of my BFATs (best friends of all time) for a few minutes on the outside of a hospice I figured I would get to know pretty well (much to my chagrin), then talked with Mom about the situation with my Grandfather.

I walked in the room and it was like WHOOSH, Death is on His way here. SOON. A moment’s dread: I might have let Him in with me when I opened the door. This sort of reckoning is new to me, and no surprise: we insulate ourselves from death as much as we possibly can.  (Why do we do this?  To make it even harder when it happens?) Oh, but we know it happens.  Deep down you can almost feel it as a part of the whirlwind of the aether around us, but we pin it down to the pegboard of science, or we pare it away even further as a part of fate or God’s plan.  Both viewpoints are chimeric, but the illusion of control or of understanding is what keeps us relatively at ease; you might say it keeps the tarp on the elephant in the room.

But nobody had any illusions here.

I go inside and spend a couple of hours with him, basically just talking to my careworn grandmother, trying to make some sort of sense out of the mess that life is (and always has been – it’s just more obvious right now), and secretly whispering to Gramps all the stuff I needed to say: love you, sorry to see you this way, it’s alright with me if you’re tired of hanging on, etc. God knows I would be tired too. He’s 83, which in today’s times doesn’t sound unspeakably ancient in the way it once did, but it’s like he’s been looking down the barrel of a gun for at least the past five years or so, just waiting it out.  So many setbacks.

First these mysterious seizures.  Almost total blindness, and hearing that probably would have failed even the shittiest quality control testing if he’d even bothered to care enough to check it out. Then, Alzheimer’s was confirmed, and ONLY THEN did it all start rolling downhill.  So, would YOU want to stick around and see what’s around the corner?

I love life.   LOVE IT.  Fucking can’t get enough of that sweet sweet stuff, etc.  I really mean it.  But I wouldn’t wish this kind of life on anybody. Not on Hitler, even, to throw out an old cliched demon of times long past.

Finally, I say my goodbyes, some more meaningful than others, get back in my shitty car (which was recently broken into, so now my soft top has a nice airy rip in it to keep me from being too warm in that motherfucker) and go home. Told Grandmother I would see her here tomorrow at the same time.  Inside I was wondering, will I really?

I wasn’t actually there when it happened. I had just gotten in the house and barely scarfed down dinner when Mom called with the news: he’s gone.  The mortal coil of a once-great man, shuffled off probably as I was yelling at my kids to shut up so I could hear the TV. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not a recrimination: this stuff happens all the time: amid the daily trappings of life, there is death, and let there be no mistake. But now, I wish I had stayed just a little longer. To bear witness. To say, Salut!, or fare thee well, or goodnight sweet prince, perhaps.

Anyway, he’s gone, our family is smaller, Grandmother is beside herself with grief, as is only cruelly natural, but at least this tormented but to-the-end gentle giant of a man is finally at peace, and for that I am glad.

Love to you always, wherever you have gone.

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Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame - Charles Bukowski

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