My grandfather died back in 2010. I remember feeling mixed emotions about it because I did not consider us close. In fact, most of the memories that I have about him are bad ones, which is odd, considering that he was a Presbyterian minister when he retired. Apparently, he was well-liked by some, but he never had cared for how we, his family, felt about him as far as I could tell.
I was stunned when we walked into the church for the service. It was quite large and mostly full of elderly folks that I did not know. Honestly, I remember it being somewhat empty, which was akin to how I felt about the whole ordeal. As the service went on, I just wanted to leave. Emotionally, I was doing fine until we walked out, and I noticed my oldest brother lightly sobbing just enough that I could hear. After that, I broke down. Nine years later, I sometimes wonder what made it so emotional for me, especially since I am sorry to admit that I felt little more than the obligatory love for the man. To get there, we must continue the day.
After leaving the church, we, of course, arrived at the cemetery. As we approached the gravesite, the horror had set in. There was nobody there. Things quickly unraveled as, if I remember it correctly, we had to go so far as to have my mom and aunt help us carry his casket to the grave. It was somewhat shocking that there was so little emotional investment in this man’s death that his two daughters-in-law had to help carry him for the final time. It was at this point that I thought again about why my brother’s tears set mine off.
Truthfully, I was annoyed by it when it happened because I did not want to cry for my grandfather. I came to the conclusion that his crying reminded me of a genuinely broken-hearted child. I told myself that he must have felt the same as I had. He wasn’t crying for himself, for our grandfather, or for the memories that we had made and shared. He was crying for the ones that we did not and would never have.
Eventually, another sad realization hit me. I barely knew the man. I remember my grandmother or father, perhaps both, asking me if there was anything of my grandfather’s that I would like to have. Since he was a minister, I wondered if there were any sermons or notes that he had written. I just wanted to know him better than I did. I’d be lying if I said that there was no shame on my part for feeling this way, but the truth isn’t something that you speak. Honestly, I hate the phrase people use these days that usually involves a gag-inducing movie scene or social media interaction in which one person encourages another to “speak their truth.” The truth isn’t yours, and it isn’t mine. It simply is.
As I’ve gotten older, I see glimpses of my grandfather in my actions. For example, I have his temper, which is not a good thing and can often be impatient, especially in public settings. I’ve always had some anxiety being in public and now wonder if he possibly had the same issue. I also very often feel misunderstood, which makes me wonder if he thought the same because I certainly never understood him. Besides, I have always been pretty good at putting on a polite show when I do go around town, as much as I dislike doing so. I’ll open doors for old ladies and sometimes guys if they are carrying something. There’s a fine line when it comes to one man holding the door for another. Like my grandfather, it seems that the four moods of happy, sad, tired, or angry dominate me even if I feel that they do not necessarily define me. I do love classical music and give him credit for that as well. I usually explain that I like classical music so much because you can’t hear another person’s voice during it typically.
The real reason for writing this post was actually an idea that I had shortly before or after my first son was born. I wanted to write a journal of sorts, the 100% all-beef version of the diary so that my sons can know just about anything about me that they would want and possibly some things that they will wish that they did not. Considering that my son will be ten years old this year, it was apparent that I had failed miserably with executing this plan. So, this seems to be the first official entry. I decided not to lock it with a tiny key and hide it under the mattress, but you’ll have to bring your own faux leather smell I’m afraid.