Monday, April 01, 2013

One generation's length away from fighting life out on my own

A week ago the world lost a wonderful man.

My Pop-Pop, my grandfather, my last living grandparent passed away last Monday evening. 

Although he managed to outlast the 6-month prognosis they had given him when he opted out of dialysis for quality of life, his final decline to 0% kidney function was somewhat rapid. He and his wife had even made plans to take a trip from their home on the Central California coast back to a big event in our hometown of Visalia in early April, thinking that he was well enough to travel. 

When I got word that his health had took a turn and was in a hospice facility, likely with just a few days left, I left the girls with Brent and took a weekend day trip up to see him. He was no longer responsive and I couldn't hold myself together to say much aloud to him, but I sat by his bedside for a few hours before making the trip back home. (The bright side of not being able to feed Mimi during her bout with RSV was the resulting freezer stocked with enough breast milk for me to be away for a few hours, although I had toyed with bringing her along with me on the 3-hour drive.) 

The very next night I received the call that he was gone. My heart was and still is broken, but he fought a long, hard battle, and he lived a relatively wonderful 82 years. I'm not a religious person, but I take comfort that whatever happens with our spirits and souls when our bodies are done, he is reunited with my father.

My Pop-Pop had seemingly made peace with it all and prepared accordingly. Last fall he sent all of his grandchildren a typewritten autobiography, which I will treasure always and pass down through our family. It's a beautiful and somewhat heartbreaking tale, given the loss of his wife and his son (my dad), as well as broken family ties and estrangement amongst his large Italian family. 

When I first got the news of his prognosis last year, I couldn't bring myself to call him right away. I was a hormonal mess, and most of all, he meant the world to me. Instead I took some time to compose myself and channel my thoughts into a letter. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get through all I'd want to tell him over the phone or in person. 

Part of what I wrote follows:
You’ve never been far from my mind, and I hope you know how much you’ve helped to shape the woman I am today. Your guidance growing up, and how you raised my father to become the man he was and in turn, the parent he was to me, are things I could never thank you enough for. 
I’m beyond fortunate that you were so supportive of my education and were integral in my graduating from college. Brent’s job has allowed me to be home with Em, but I know that my degree will allow me to get back into the full-time workforce when the time comes. Thank you again for your support.
My Pop-Pop was amazing, and he plays a large role in so many of my childhood memories. I'm so blessed to carry on the best of what he gave to me.



  1. I'm so sorry for your loss Nanners. He sounds like an amazing man and you were lucky to have him and I'm sure he felt the same way about you x 100.

  2. Oh, Nanette. I'm so sorry for your loss. But again, so happy that you were able to visit him and say your goodbyes.

  3. Sorry for your loss, Nanette. What a blessing that you got that final time with him before his passing. May your take comfort that he is now reunited with his son and they can watch over you and your family together, enjoying all your adventures and admiring what a wonderful woman, mother and wife you are to your family.

  4. I'm so sorry Nanette. The words I want to comfort you aren't coming to me tonight, but my heart is with you. xoxo

  5. I'm so sorry for your loss, Nanette. This post was beautiful, though. xoxo

  6. I'm so sorry for your loss. Grandparents are such wonderful gifts. May he be at peace.

  7. Anonymous10:30 AM

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Debbie A-H (editdebs)

  8. I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a great man. It's such a gift that he typed up those autobiographies for you!

  9. I am so sorry, friend. I'm so glad that you got to see him one last time.

  10. aw friend i am so sorry, this is such a beautiful tribute to your grandpa. xo

  11. I'm so very sorry for your loss, my friend. Sending you love and thoughts of peace.

  12. I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my last grandparent last summer, so I know how this feels. Hugs.

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