Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Grandfather

I was going to post about books today, but my grandfather died this morning and it seems appropriate to write about that instead. It wasn't terribly surprising as he was both old and unhealthy and I'm sure it must be awful to be blindsided by death so I'm grateful for that, particularly for my grandmother's sake. But, of course, it's still sad.

The last time I saw my grandfather I had gone out to my grandparents' apartment in Queens for the night. It was during what was the low point in my whole bed bug ordeal. I wasn't really eating and I'd go to sleep by 8:30 or 9 only to wake up at 4 in the morning still horribly tired. And returning to my apartment after work pretty much made me cry. Every day. (Yeah, I didn't deal with that so well. I am definitely not an example of how to handle a particularly stubborn bed bug infestation in an emotionally healthy manner.) Anyway, I was treated for bed bugs late in the day and my apartment was just a wreck. I had to be out for three hours because of the pesticides and the idea of coming back in fairly late in the evening and putting it all back together so I could go to bed was too much to bear. So I put some money and my metrocard in a ziploc bag with a toothbrush and a book that I knew hadn't been exposed to the bugs, changed into freshly laundered and therefor bedbug free clothes, and headed out to Queens. 

My grandmother was just getting over being ill but had dinner ready and over the first real meal I'd eaten in a couple weeks my grandfather told me about the time he'd had "bedbugs." Apparently, during World War II he'd taken a lovely blanket from a dead German soldier. And this would have been great. What luck! But the blanket turned out to be infested with bedbugs. Who migrated over and set up residence in his chest hair. Until he got rid of them by pouring a gallon of gasoline over himself. Now, given that bedbugs don't live on people, I pretty sure what was living in his chest hair was not bedbugs. But a little bit of perspective goes a long way. 

I slept on their couch that night and the next morning my grandfather made me eggs and bacon for breakfast. Everyone in the family always loved when my grandfather made breakfast. My grandparents took such good care of me that day. I'd felt so alone standing in my chemical-filled mess of an apartment, and going to stay with them for the night reminded me of how many people I have in my life who love me and are there for me at a time when I needed to remember that.  So I've been thinking about that a lot today. 

There are so many other things as well . . . all the little and big things that make up a life. But that seems like enough for tonight. 


Pookie said...

Meg, I am so sorry to hear of your loss! My thoughts are with you and your family.

Meg said...

Thanks, Pookie. He had a full, happy life. And he died at home without a long, miserable decline. I think it was genuinely the best way he could have gone, which does make things easier.

Schnookie said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your grandfather -- and your family. I'm so sorry for your loss, and happy for him that he had a peaceful death. My deepest condolences.