I Remember…But Does She?

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This is a blog entry that I have put off writing.  Two days ago was the anniversary of my Dad’s death.  Its funny how the months, then years creep by and suddenly the day sneaks up on you.  I know the day is coming but I actually have to be reminded about the actual date.  Its not that I don’t remember, it is because I remember so much.

This year another thought is tugging on my heart and puts a lump in my throat.  My little girl, “Princess” Johnny’s younger sister, is now 3-1/2 and is quite the chatterbox and story teller.  But what stands out is she never shares stories about her other Grandpa.  Johnny as an emerging speaker will suddenly out of the blue say “Grandpa used to buy Lysol wipes Mommy.”  “Grandpa used to buy Cheez Wiz and put it on his toast Mommy.”  “We don’t buy it anymore because Grandpa is in heaven.”  “Grandpa used to fix my toys and help me change the batteries.”  When Princess hears this she always thinks its her Grandpa  my husbands father) that we are talking about.  It is very bittersweet but its not her fault for being so young when he was still with us.  I can’t help but look at Johnny  when she makes the innocent mistake and I see the pain mirrored in his eyes that is in mine.  We NEED to tell her.   He does.  “Princess….Grandpa who is in heaven.”  What is even more incredible is my Dad never got to hear Johnny truly speak clearly or say sentences so to hear his grandson explain about their other Grandpa brings tears to my eyes and I cannot speak.  Luckily Johnny can for me now as words fail me.

I have been recently scrolling through all pictures on our computer hard drive and showing the children pictures of their “Grandpa in heaven” and especially pictures of Princess with him.  My Dad was a modern man even though he was in his early 80’s when I made him a Grandfather. He easily held the babies, helped me change diapers, rocked them to sleep, fed them in the high chair and spent hours sitting and going through books with Johnny when he couldn’t talk and telling him over and over again….putting words to pictures to expand his receptive language.  How many times did he look after Princess when she was a baby and I had to pick up Johnny at his Nursery school or when I had to take him to speech therapy?  How many times did he look after Princess when I had to pick up Johnny at summer camp?  How many times did I come home and she was curled up on his lap as he was napping too?  The dishes would be all washed and the laundry was all done but the living room had toys from one end to there other and he would wake up and be sheepish that he hadn’t got to that before I came home. That was okay Dad because you played with Princess.  She might not remember now but I will tell her.  When Dad was in the last weeks of cancer, we moved the story time chair into his room beside his bed and Princess would bring as many books as she could carry and plop them on the chair.  She would scramble up and sit on her pile and begin to read him stories.  She would open a book and look at each and every page and pretend to read.  It sounded more like a sing song and word approximations because she was only 20 months but HE LOVED IT.  As weal as he was he would smile and tell me “leave her be” and he would lie there and watch and listen  to her as he savoured these last precious days with her.

When I was a little girl I remember there were times when my Mum would get very emotional if I asked her about my Grandma.  Grandma had passed away many years before I was born and she too died of cancer with my Mum looking after her but at a hospital.  Sometimes she could tell me stories and other times she had to walk away.  I remember being very confused because my Mum never shied away of telling me stories of her family or growing up.  Why was THIS so hard?  It wasn’t until many years into the future when I suddenly lost her to a heart attack one morning that I understood.  Time doesn’t truly heal the pain of losing someone, it only makes it less harder most of the time remembering and sharing.  But there will always be times when your resolve cracks and the memories attach to emotions and the damn breaks.  The last two years I have been trying to figure out how to navigate this and my own grief but also sharing my childhood memories to my children.

I am going to start writing down all my memories so when they are older they can read and truly understand that they have 2 grandpas and 2 grandmas.  But in the meantime I am going to go through old pictures of them with my Dad and make them each their own memory books too look at.  Its a start.

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