|My paternal grandfather, David, in 1937-8, and Weston, in 2014|
As the years went on, my grandfather's health grew worse, and he could barely speak, but he held on strong. His shaking never bothered us, as we never knew him any other way. Even as a grumpy teen, I loved walking into his apartment, which always smelled like clean laundry, and yet like fried chicken. The last summer he was alive, my then-boyfriend was living and working in Manhattan, so I spent a lot of time hanging around the city. With nothing else to do on incredibly hot days, I would find myself on the subway uptown. I would walk into the cool apartment building and find myself pressing the button for the 19th floor. His nurse would answer the door, and I would drop my bag, and just go sit by his side. Like a confessional, I would just talk: about my worries, about my college classes, about life. I knew he was listening. After an hour or so, I would kiss his cheek, say goodbye and be on my way. Refreshed, and full of love and life. I always am so thankful for that last summer; I had never spent so much time alone with him, and I will be forever grateful for that.
He passed away right before Thanksgiving, my senior year of college. While I was sad, I knew it was his time to go. He was a Marine, a boxer, and a prosecutor, so he had certainly fought his battles! His funeral was small, and touching; I read an excerpt from Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey. It was respectful, quiet, and a family-oriented gathering, just the way he would have wanted it.
On the other side, I was the first grandchild to very young grandparents; my grandfather wasn't yet 50 when I was born, and while I know (from what I am told!) that he was excited, I am sure it was a shock! My Poppop was my buddy, and in many ways, my best friend. From an early age we were comrades, and jokesters. He knew exactly how to press my buttons and I knew exactly how to press his. We spent hours together. He became like a second father; we went to the grocery, Broadway shows, out to many dinners. When my parents got divorced, my father lived with his father, and therefore, we lived there too. There was never a more secure feeling than hearing my grandfather's footsteps on the basement stairs, coming up to the house, because I knew he was home for the night, and would be there for us. Poppop was the most devoted doctor I have ever met. His patients loved and adored him. Just the other day, my next door neighbor was chatting with us, and it came about that he saw my grandfather as his doctor; he was thrilled and delighted, for he exclaimed how much he loved Dr. D! Poppop was the life of the party, and a family man. Summers were spent at his house, splashing in the pool, hanging out with my aunts and uncles. It was the prime of life. He loved nothing more than having every single person he knew at his house, serving food, and complaining that the dishes weren't clean. He was my safe place, my rock. I adored him to bits.
Poppop passed away suddenly, most likely from heart failure, April of my senior year of high school. My world came crashing down. I didn't know what life was without him in it! I'm still in shock to this day. I think I push it out of my head and just pretend it's been a few weeks since I saw him.
When I look at my son, it truly amazes me how much of both my grandfathers I see in him. Sometimes I literally lose my breath thinking about nature, and genetics and how crazy it is that Weston has genetics from these two men whom I not only came from, but adored. Just like my mother's father, Weston puts his hands on his head, and looks perplexed; he can't stand to be wrong, and he's also a little...bossy (where does he get that from? Me?!). And like my father's father, he is the ultimate life of the party and adores being out and meeting people. Oh, and he's a little bit obsessed with the ladies too! He's also a prankster and jokester, which reminds me of my Poppop, who used to carry around his fake thumb so he would always have a magic trick on him. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but it still blows my mind: my grandfathers' legacies live on in my son. It's such a beautiful thought to me. While I mourn and miss my grandfathers every single day, I have a blessing of a son who continues their blood and traits. I'm so eager to see what else Weston gets from them, even without knowing them.
We've been listening to the Okee Dokee Brothers a lot in the car (they are awesome kid's music!), and there's one song which I play over and over again, "Roll On River." There's a line in the song which just resonates with me, "When I come to my final ocean, I know this thought will keep me warm: all the water in this whole world never dies, it just changes form." I couldn't have said it better myself.