Sunday, June 25, 2006

My Grandfather Is Dead

He died in the early hours of this morning.

It was expected. He's been ill for decades, his heart and all sorts wrong with him, and then the last few months he's been in and out of hospital, intensive care units and isolation wards.

A week or so ago he was allowed home. Unfortunately he was completely wheelchair-bound, and "home" was a third-floor flat in a block with no lift, where the internal doors were too slim to admit a wheelchair - so that amounted to bedbound. I know my grandfather. He likes to walk in the forest and go to the shops to choose his own food. He was a very active and social person. Being bedbound would drive him utterly bananas, and at home would be worse than at hospital as at least at hospital there are other patients and doctors to chat to.

Mum says that he was expecting this and was prepared for it - all his paperwork and everything was in order and everything is set. The funeral is later this week, a church service, more for the religious members of the family than for him. He's requested no grave or anything like that, he doesn't want us travelling to Germany just to come look at a bit of stone.

When mum told me, my initial reaction was "well, that was expected", but that was probably because she'd built up the conversation - "Are you sitting down? Is Steve with you? I have some bad news...", I mean, there was only a limited number of things it could be. As she explained more about what had happened, about the time and about everything being prepared, I began to cry and I spent quite some time just crying, even after we'd hung up.

But since then I've been remembering lots of the great things my grandfather did with and for my sister and me, places we went, songs we sang, and so on. Recently we'd been writing letters to each other using automatic translation tools, but one sentence at a time, painstakingly trying to make sure it still made sense. I swear an old-fashioned paper Collins English/German dictionary would have been quicker and easier, but at least we could make each other laugh and we knew we cared.

I don't know what I'm supposed to do now, if I should be sending cards or flowers or anything to my grandmother or my mum or my uncle. I'm sort of at a loose end.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear this.

Take care eh?

The Goldfish said...

Really sorry to hear about this. However expected these things are, there is always grief to follow.

Are you going to the funeral in Germany? If so, suggest that's going to take a fair amount of planning.

If not, I recommend some way of marking his passing, some sort of proxy funeral as it were. A time to play music that is significant and to reflect on things.

Really sorry, Mary. Hope this doesn't hit your health too hard.

Mary said...

Thanks, guys.

There's no way I can go to the funeral - I have no passport and nowhere to stay and I wouldn't manage the journey anyway, but even if I was fit and healthy, I really don't think he'd want me there. Like I said, the church service is more for the benefit of the religious family members who would be floundering without one.

He's in my thoughts a lot at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandad.

If you don't know what to do for your mum and grandma, I would say to definitely write them a card. It doesn't matter how short - I think a few lines to show you care is a great comfort, far better than sending flowers.

Katie said...

Sorry to hear about your grandfather Mary, My thoughts are with you at this sad time, I always tell my friends and people I know to think of all the good times you had with him and that helps.

I think sending a card would be a lovely idea, and then your family will appreciate that. Kitty Jimjams had a great idea there about saying about the card.

Email me if you feel you want someone to talk to about things as I am there for you honey.

Mary said...

Thanks again everyone.

Katie, you are absolutely right about remembering all the good times! Although I think if I tell Steve one more misty-eyed, rose-tinted story from a childhood holiday, his head might explode (mind you, that'd be a heckuva thing to blog about if it did).

I've been in discussion with my mum, phone and msn, and she is ok. With her input we decided that once my brain is up to it, I should get on to interflora and send my grandma some nice flowers with a Mary-style badly-translated card, but make it clear that the flowers are a gift for her to let her know that I am thinking of her, rather than a funeral wreath.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather but the good thing is you have good memories of him. I never knew either of mine for various reasons but I sort of adopted my best friends grandad, he too died recently after a long illness. While he was in hospital he took the oportunity to beckon me closer as if to tell me a secret, he said "this hospital is full of NIG NOGS!!!" I didn't know whether to be shocked or to giggle my head off, I went for the laughter.

Leiro said...

Sorry to hear that. My grandma is very very sick and I am almost waiting for that conversation. :-(

Good to hear you are focusing on the positives, I'm sure he'd have wanted that.

aibee said...

I'm really sorry Mary.

Loss isn't, I think, easier to deal with when it's expected. I think we miss them, no matter what.

Be well, special girl, and take comfort in knowing that your grandfather is still with you, it's just that you can't see him anymore.