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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Four Grandparents Who Shaped Me...

It's never very easy to handle the death of a loved one.  It can be one of the most painful, sobering experiences that one can ever endure.

On January 21, 2015, I lost my last surviving grandparent.

My paternal grandmother passed away at the age of 91 as a result of illness.  She had been in a nursing home for a few years prior, and while I wasn't always able to go up and visit her, I was always thinking of her.

On one hand, I am relieved to know that she is no longer in pain and that she did live a good long life.  Of all of my grandparents, she definitely lived the longest.  But her passing also leaves behind a hole.  As I mentioned before, she was my last surviving grandparent.  All four of my grandparents have passed on, and I truly do miss all four of them a lot.

They all made an impression on me throughout my life, and I miss all of them terribly.

So, I thought that I would make today a short entry day, and use it to speak openly about the four wonderful people who I called my grandparents.

I still remember when I lost my first grandparent.  It was October 1991.  I was 10.  My maternal grandmother had died of a heart attack at just 66 years old.  It was probably the death that I took the hardest, probably because I was so young at the time, and probably because she and I had a really close relationship.  My memories of her are few and far between, and my memories of her keep fading over time, but I do remember her being the most patient woman in the world.  I was kind of a hyper child at the time, and I was probably bouncing off the walls whenever I came over to visit.  And yet, like only a grandmother would do, she would try to calm me down by giving me Oreo cookies, cherry 7-UP, and other sugary treats that you probably really shouldn't give a hyper child.  But she did this because she really loved me, and I think she could tell that I was a child who thought outside the box a lot.  It didn't matter in the end though.  I knew that she would always have my back.  And, I think that's why her death hit me so hard, as I only had her for ten years.  That's way too short.

The second grandparent I lost was my paternal grandfather, who succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 84 in July 2000.  The eldest of all my grandparents, the man that I affectionately called "Pa" was a fairly quiet man who had simple beliefs - and I honestly believe that if I gained anything from him, it was the ideal that you didn't need to have a lot of money to keep from having fun.  He certainly didn't need a lot to keep him happy as he was always in a good mood whenever I saw him.  I never really told anyone this before because I didn't want to sound insensitive, but I always thought he had a "Tigger" grin.  You know how in the Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons, Tigger would have this huge grin on his face?  Well, whenever I see Tigger, I sort of am reminded of my grandfather in some weird way.  Well, that plus he did a step dance at my sister's wedding when he was 81 years old.  Just let that sink in for a second.

My maternal grandfather stayed alive for ten years after Grandma passed away.  He died in April 2001 at the age of seventy-eight - just nine months after my paternal grandfather.   I was smack dab in the middle of exams during that time, and I remember it being a crazy time of year.  I was bouncing back and forth between school and home that whole month of April, and I think the whole thing was kind of a blur.  Admittedly, while I did love my grandfather, I think he and I had the most distant relationship.  I wouldn't say that we absolutely hated each other.  Far from it.  He and I just kind of saw things differently.  He did help me out with a history project on "The Great Depression" in high school (after all, his childhood basically lasted the whole depression).  And, people always have said that physically speaking, I look a lot like him.  I don't see it, but you tell me.

And, finally, my paternal grandmother, who just passed away two nights ago.  And you know, I would say that if I inherited anything from her, it would be a couple of things.  Firstly, I suppose I could say that I inherited my poor vision from her, but that wouldn't be accurate, as three of my four grandparents wore glasses.  More importantly than that, I would say that I developed my belief system through her.  I know it sounds a bit strange for me to say this, since my grandmother was extremely religious, and I kind of shun organized religion.  But you know, she never thought any less of me for feeling the way that I did.  She still loved me unconditionally.  The same way that all my other grandparents did when they were still here.

Not everybody in this world is lucky enough to have known their grandparents.  And yet, I was blessed enough to have gotten to know all four of them in some manner.  In that sense, I consider myself extremely lucky and loved.  To have had four people in my life who shaped me in some manner to who I am today.  I take all of these traits and quirks with me today, and in some manner, I suppose that all four of them will still live on, as long as I live.

This post is dedicated to all grandparents in the world, as well as to anyone who has lost a grandparent in their lifetimes.  Believe me when I say that I know how hard it is to say goodbye.

Thank you.

In Loving Memory

Corva Mae Anderson
July 13, 1925 - October 29, 1991

Harold Anderson
March 1, 1923 - April 20, 2001

Stanley Turcotte

May 3, 1916 - July 14, 2000

Helen Turcotte
June 29, 1923 - January 21, 2015

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