never the last

if you recall, my gramps is fred. he is 95. i love him lots of lots of lots. for his last bday i wrote him 95 reasons why i love him. we went to hang out with him last weekend in his new geriatric swingers community (senior living complex). we met a sweet little blonde raisin of a lady in the elevator on the way up who asked me if i was "martha's daughter." martha is fred's sister and is in her seventies. SWISH! motherhood must look really foxy on me. she also said that they keep trying to get fred to come to lunch or dinner in the cafeteria but he never comes out and socializes.
this is sad to me. fred is still mentally agile and tons of fun to be around. he has lots to give and it sucks bedpan that he has become the shady old recluse of the complex who never comes out of his hermitage.

so sweet! check out judah's fly. luckily with diapers there's no chance of the judah-worm making a surprise emergence. i am gonna hand the blame for this one over to big daddy and g-ma (my parents) since he had spent the night before at their house and this was on their watch.
fred married my dad's mom after my biological grandfather died. this was in the 70's, so even though he's my dad's stepfather there is nothing "step" about his grampitude to me. fred was a good 10 years older than my grandmother and probably never would have guessed that he would outlive her by 15 years (and counting). i believe he would have gone to see jesus right along with her if he had been given the choice. but he wasn't. he's had to stay.

what do you do with that? he's 95, has 2 wives waiting for him in heaven along with countless friends and relatives and his body is slowly crapping out on him while his brain is still very aware of what's going on. how can i wish for him to stay longer? isn't that selfish of me? i know i will cry when fred dies. i don't want him to die. i will miss him and wish that judah and the rest of my kids could have known him like i did. but that's all for me. for him, i want fred to go home. to run and not get tired instead of shuffling behind a walker in constant pain. to spend his days staring at the wonder of god instead of reruns on the game show network. to be whole instead of broken; uplifted instead of fallen; in light instead of darkness.

it just seems unfair. we all want to live a long time and lots of years, but if you get that wish then you also get the pleasure of burying your entire generation and being the last one. while fred is far from alone, i imagine that he feels a little left behind. marooned here on earth while all of his contemporaries and many of his loved ones have moved on. it's such a mind job. i don't know how he doesn't just think about it all day long. maybe he does. 100,000 dollar pyramid is a good show, but maybe not that good.

everybody gets worked up over a younger person dying. people lost their shit because michael jackson "was taken" so young. he was 50. i mean if i could go at 50 and be the first one of my whole family, i might take that offer. i'd never have to see anyone i loved die before me and bonus: i get to be with jesus forever. win-win. if you believe what jesus said then death is only tragic to us who are left behind. if jesse or judah died i would be wrecked beyond belief and would cry millions of tears for decades. but none for them...all for me, and just for now.

so every time i get to see fred i make sure i tell him i love him lots of times and talk about all the fun memories we have together. i always take a picture of him and judah; you know: just in case...just for me. all of these encounters full of love are tinged with a constant question "is this the last time i will see him?" i am thrilled by the fact that no matter what happens, the answer is: no.


  1. So this post has me thinking. There's been a lot of death in my world recently. First my uncle, then one of my best friend's little sister and last week a lady I worked with. It's tricky, you know? My uncle was 73, he had a long full life, but when the cancer got him it still sucked - especially for my dad. Molly's death was devastating and tragic any way you look at it. She was way too young, and the circumstances should have been preventable. Debbie, my colleague, was in her 50s, a sweet lady who had a new daughter in law and was about to become a grandmother for the first time. I'm not sure why I'm sharing all of that, because really Fred reminds me of Miss Clyde. She was Neal's god-mother and basically like a grandmother to us since my actual grandmother died when my mom was 18. She lived into her 90s and watched everyone from her generation go before her. It broke my heart near the end when she was ready to go, we were ok with her going, and yet she still hung on. When she passed, I was so sad. But it was like you said, I was sad for me and totally happy for her.

    I think what you said about death only being tragic to us who are left behind is interesting. It's difficult to imagine the people you love in complete celebration in heaven while you are totally devastated here without them. Particularly when you don't know the death is coming and aren't as prepared as you can be with that kind of thing. Don't get me wrong, I believe it's true and love the idea of great celebrations welcoming people into heaven, it's just so strange to me at the same time. It's comforting and also odd. You know, like how can someone you feel so close to and connected with not feel some of the pain you're feeling? I don't know and don't usually spend a lot of time thinking about it. I guess it's just been difficult to get off my brain lately.

    Umm, On a different note, do you love my stream of consciousness comment? It's totally the best kind of comment. Bad news that I didn't really bring the funny. Maybe soon you can give me something to work with in terms of humor?

  2. Keight, I think I read your blog religiously, but obviously I missed the January one on Fred. You do spreadsheets for a living? WHY asks both Blaine and me? I just read your blogs about Fred aloud to Blaine...read a little, cried a little...got choked up a little. You are gifted with words and I don't think you realize it. What a beautiful tribute to Fred, to dealing with death, to dealing with old age. I love you lots and lots and lots and lots.