Thursday, June 25, 2015

Surreal Sadness

Grandpa Bob and the terrible Dot.
This has been a strange week full of lots of downs. We all know about Lauren's incredible loss, and have seen her have complete composure and strength in her writing through this ordeal. I am in awe of her, I really am. We are all here for her, and the different path she is now going through. I can't even being to imagine.
My grandpa Frank and me
I also learned that my tough 87 year old grandpa Frank is now battling leukemia. He has been in and out of hospitals for the last couple of months, and we finally have an answer to what is going on. He has been in a rehab facility trying to gain some strength back for the last few weeks, and now he has been receiving chemo shots as well. This has taken a toll on my grandma, but my dad and aunt went out to visit him in Illinois last week for Father's Day. He got to come home for a little bit and he was so happy, especially surrounded by his family. My heart aches that I couldn't be there.
Grandpa loved motorcycles. And dogs. And all animals. And engines.
And then there is today. Remembering my grandpa Bob, who would have had his 68th birthday today. The pain of losing him still stings every time I think about it. So, I try not to. I try to think of the times where he was crazy and happy and less about the struggles he endured. Like the time he stole a maintenance cart at the hospital while waiting for a new liver, and with hospital gown and i.v. stand in tow, drove to the gas station to get a corn dog and some cigarettes. That happened more than once. He also scared a nurse so bad on her first day at work, that she ran out of the hospital and didn't come back (he turned off some machines and pretended to be dying and hid under the covers with a mask on, and when she pulled them back, he jumped out at her).
Saying hello to BT the burrow, wearing matching colors.
He was feisty and tough, and I try to convince myself that I must have some of that toughness in there somewhere. This man survived the Vietnam war, several comas, being hit on his motorcycle on several occasions (where the drivers left him in the Arizona desert on the road with a bike on top of him. Oh how I would love to meet these people with a bat in my hands), a liver transplant, and a heart valve replacement. He taught me all about classic rock, and I was trained at the early age of 5 to know all of the different bands and songs. The first one I danced to when I was barely standing was "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith.
My fish pillow has a name. It is Louie.
In high school, I had no real friends by the end of senior year. I had Blake, but he went to a different school across the city. I was bullied and taken advantage of. All of my previous friends found cooler friends that would smoke or drink with them when I would not. At that time, I would get bi-weekly calls from my grandpa, and he would cheer me up. He cried with me when I called him and told him that Booger had broken his leg and I had to end his suffering. And when I found out that I was going to lose my grandpa, I wrote him a letter. I wasn't sure if it would make it to him in time (he was told he would have another 24 hours if he went home, but ended up proving them wrong by hanging on for a week) so I read it to him over the phone. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. There is no manual for how to tell somebody you love goodbye.
Grandpa's last trip to Idaho in 2007.
I got to talk to him one more time after that letter, and I was in some kind of denial that he wasn't going anywhere. I treated it as a regular phone call, but my grandpa knew it would be the last time. His body was starting to fail him, and he had difficulties talking. But at the end of our conversation, he said goodbye through lots of tears and pain. I don't know why I thought I would get to talk to him again.
You were not allowed near grandpa when Dot was nearby.
So here I am, trying to celebrate his birthday. He may be gone, but he can still be celebrated. It is hard to celebrate through tears, but it can be done. Lord knows he would be very upset with me for still being this sad. He always wanted people to be laughing and happy.
I look horrible. Tears and braces. They were going back home to Arizona that day.


  1. Your Grandpa Bob sounds like he was an awesome, badass guy! You are blessed to have had him in your life, even though it hurts to have lost him. Big, BIG hugs from me and Dino! And you are absolutely, definitely as tough as he was. :)

  2. Sending good vibes to you and your Grandpa Frank. And big hugs!

    Your Grandpa Bob gave you some wonderful memories (and I LOLed at the scaring the nurse story). My grandpa has been gone many years but he was my biggest fan, it sounds like Grandpa Bob was yours too.

  3. this is a lovely tribute for your Grandpa Bob - remembering and sharing these memories (happy and sad) are part of what keeps him with us

  4. Hugs :( I'm always here for you Alyssa! Seriously just a phone call away and I can and will deliver you anything.