My Grandpa died today.

So I had an idea of what I was going to write today ... but based on the headline, that all changed.

I had kind of a holiday weekend wrap up planned (which, oddly enough knowing me and my penchant for rambling) was going to be short, and going to have two questions.

Short, because I really didn't do a whole lot because I'm still sick.

But with two important questions about death and the afterlife.

See, my grandpa - my mom's dad and my last remaining grandparent - was taken to the hospital on Saturday, and from the sounds of mom's voice when she called to tell me, he probably wasn't going home. She can't say it that way - she had to lay on the Jewish mother guilt (even though we're not Jewish) with "If you want to see your grandfather you better get over to the hospital here in the next day or two. He's not doing well."

I'm sure part of that was because I didn't attend Thanksgiving dinner this year because I didn't leave my apartment because I was sick as hell; and part was just how she delivers news. When her mom died in 1993, the phone call said, "You don't have a grandmother anymore."

Anyway ... Sunday, I drug myself out of bed, got a shower, took some DayQuil in hopes I'd feel better, and headed out to the hospital to see him. And yes, I put on a surgical mask when I got to the hospital to keep my germs to myself.

But hiding there behind my mask, looking at him as I said goodbye, in my head I had question number 1:

What do you say to someone who's dying when you leave?

And as I drove over to my dad's house, being behind the wheel always makes me think, in my head i had question number 2:

When you get to wherever you believe you go after you die, what do you look like?

He was 90 in June. And while he didn't look it then, he did when I saw him on Sunday.

I can remember him being in his 60's when I was a kid. He always had thin white hair and age spots to me. But the photos I've seen of him younger he was a wavy-haired redhead, much like my cousin Alan.

Based on my limited beliefs and pop-culture lifestyle, I kind of came up with the idea that you will recognize someone in the afterlife as you remember them in your fondest memory of them - the first memory you have of them when you think of them.

At least that's what I believe ... honestly, probably because of how Obi-Wan, Anakin and Yoda appeared to Luke in Episode VI.

And I base that on this fact: given the option of looking like Sir Alec Guinness or Ewan McGregor, I'd choose Ewan ... even though Obi-Wan appeared as Alec Guinness ... so apparently you can't choose your form, or you appear to the person as they knew you.

So now I'm wondering how he appeared to my grandmother when he joined her at 5:10 this morning after he died. I'm sure he choose a much younger version of himself.

Here he is in August with my daughter ...

My fondest memory of him was when I was about four, we lived with my grandparents for a bit when my mom and dad divorced. Grandpa had a bit of a prankster in him ... and he'd eat his peas off a butter knife and encourage us to try. I was four, my sister was seven. So not only were we not coordinated enough to use a butter knife to butter bread, we never saw him dip his knife in the potatoes to get it sticky, so our peas wound up all over the plate, the table, and the floor ... and would my grandmother yell at him! "Jack! Jack! Stop it. Those kids are getting peas all over the place! He'd laugh and we'd laugh and the only other sound was Radio 57 playing on that beat-up black radio on the table.

My other favorite memory of him is with my daughter, when she was a baby ... the two of them were buddies!

Not the greatest picture in the world as it was taken through a screen, but she walked right in there, he picked her up, and they hung out talking.

She was hooked. It's going to break my heart to tell her.

No comments: