I feel like I’ve been gone a long time.  Not from writing, but from Nashville.  It’s only been eight days.  It was supposed to be five, but early Sunday morning, while we were both asleep, my grandfather passed away.  A surreal twenty-four hours; my mom and sister had thrown a shower to celebrate the little girl Jaron and I are preparing to welcome this fall.  Women from my past and present came and gave gifts and kind words and prayers.  Every one of them is a mother, proving, I guess, that I’ve taken my sweet time with the whole progeny thing.  🙂

After the festivities I went with my parents to visit Papa.  He hasn’t been doing well for some time, and honestly, I haven’t always visited him when I’m in town, shying away from the awkwardness of telling him who I am.  But this time Jaron and I went along to see him and whether he was settling in to his new nursing house, where he’d been for just one day.  He looked good and I told him his great-granddaughter was excited to meet him next time we come to town.  He was confused, but seemed to know I was being friendly.  He asked us what we thought of the weather.  I shook his hand when we left, afraid that our customary kiss on the cheek would confuse him further.

Still, while his mind has rebelled against him, his health has always been good, so it was a shock to arrive at my parents’ the next morning to the news.  It amazes me how you can walk in on a scene that looks completely normal, but immediately know that something has gone very wrong.

Mom and I spent one morning going through his things, noting how temporal the “treasures” we hold onto really are, finding dust and decay everywhere, and feeling relief for Papa, that his worries and loads have finally been lifted for good.

Papa had a taste for experiences, both fancy and fun.  His homes were professionally decorated, restaurant meals had multiple courses, often with seafood from his native New England, and he traveled the world before it was common to do so.  But he also had a jar of jelly beans near him at all times and loved to find surprises at stores or around the house to give to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  He was an actor at the Old Globe and loved whimsy and fanfare.

As he had outlived his friendships and extended family, we had a small ceremony with family and tried our best to do justice to his favorite food.   The lobster, not the jelly beans.

Our baby girl has lost her last two great-grandparents while in the womb, one a spiritual leader and the other a creative leader.  We hope and pray that she takes after them both.