I was sitting in traffic this morning that isn’t usually there, which prompted me to sit and think longer than usual in the mornings.
I started to think about how Thanksgiving is coming up, and about Thanksgivings past. There are many, of course, but there’s one specifically that sticks in my mind. We went to Indiana to visit family for this particular Thanksgiving. I had just colored my hair for the first time. I think the actual shade color was “Copper Penny,” but the shade was orange. And, I thank my Mom for letting me dye it, despite her inner monologue probably going something like, “Ew! What a hideous shade of pumpkin! She looks otherworldly!”
But, thinking about that particular Thanksgiving fast forwarded me into what happened after that Thanksgiving, and even just thinking about it for a second made me have to choke back tears.
It’s been nine years since my grandfather died. He passed away December 1st, 1998 after having a massive stroke. I was in second period earth science when I got the call to come meet my Mom at the front office. At first, it was like Christmas. “Yay, I get to leave class early,” I thought.
She was waiting there for me, we got in the car, and she told me what had happened. My heart sank. It was the same choking-back-tears feeling. I could only imagine what my Mom was thinking, because I was already heartbroken.
I’m sad because I don’t remember all the details. I know we had to pick my brother up and go home and pack some stuff to take to Charlotte. I think my dad had to leave work later and he met us up there later in the day.
What I do remember, is haunting though. My entire family was standing around his cot in the room he was in, and he had tubes coming out from all sides. He was on life support, and at 14 I had a vague idea of what that meant. I knew that if they kept him on it, they were delaying the inevitable. I knew that we were all there to pay our last respects to him before they pulled it. I knew that I didn’t really want to be in the room when they did, but deep down I did. I don’t remember the nurse actually unplugging the machine, but I remember his entire body lurching forward after they did. It really freaked me out, but my Mom explained to me afterwards that it was perfectly normal, and that was his body just shutting down.
We went to his funeral a day or so afterwards. It was still really surreal for me, so I can’t imagine what everyone else in my family was thinking. His plot is in Mooresville, North Carolina, the same city he grew up in and where my Grandma still lives.
I know that he’s probably where I get my writer gene from. He worked at the Charlotte Observer for a long time writing columns for the sports section. I believe he also write a column for the outdoors section. He was always hunting and fishing.
I know that every time I think about him, my face tingles and gets all red from holding tears back, wishing he could have at least seen me grow out of being s bratty teenager.
And then I realize that he did. And still does.