A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Grandpa part 2

My grandfather enjoyed salt water fishing either from the surf or from a pier such as at Seal Beach, CA. On weekends when I would go stay with grandma and grandpa a fishing trip was always in order. Those trips fishing, out to the desert to shoot .22's at tin cans and just lying on the bed with him to watch old western movies will be memories that I'll never forget.

On that fateful day it happened to be the first day of week's vacation for him.  His old late 40's Plymouth sedan was in the shop and he wouldn't get it back till Friday.  With no car for work he took that week's vacation that his boss had been pestering him about.  My grandmother took him for a ride to Seal Beach to see how the fishing was and maybe meet up with a few of his fishing pals on the pier.  But it was a cold windy day and as they started out on the pier he turned to his wife and said "Sugar, this is miserable isn't it?" and with that they returned to the car.  He didn't feel ambitious and as my grandmother wrote - in looking back I could see he was way under par for that day.  A stop at the store, then a roadside stand for some strawberries and back home.  He relaxed on his bed that afternoon watching TV (an old western I bet) and listen to news radio.  They had a late lunch that day of a chicken tamale each then later in the afternoon some strawberry shortcake.  Dinner at 6 was a chicken sandwich, a cup of cocoa and he saved the dish of peaches for later.  Around 7 he came out and asked my grandmother for some mending tape she used that morning and then returned to the bedroom.  She was writing a letter and finished at about 8pm then went in to see him.  That is when she found him lying across the bed with his head and right arm down over the far side where his radios were, as though he was reaching for something.  She said "Hi - what are you doing?"  When he never stirred she knew immediately.

She writes:  Of all the plans we made and all the things Gramps and I talked about, we'd never once ever thought of anything like this happening.  Oh later sometime, perhaps - after he retired and we'd settled quietly in some little rural area where life could go on peacefully for us both for a little while longer at least.  Gramps longed most for three things, I think:  to die quietly in his sleep, to live for a few years after retirement and enjoy life a bit, and to spend those few years in that "quiet little place somewhere far away from HERE".  His death was as near as to what he desired as one could come - it wasn't in his sleep but it was instant and painless.  And he was at home and he was with me."

He never wanted to be buried in California but as things turned out there wasn't much my grandmother could do to follow his request.  She was able to get two plots up the slope from where my father lies.  She ends the letter with  But if he knows, I think perhaps the knowledge that he's near Terry and one day I'll join them both, will make up for my having done as I have.


  1. As hard as it is to read about the last days of our loved one's life, the beauty and love that shines through in your writing about him makes it a worthy way to spend some time. Thank you, John, for sharing your heart. It is a beautiful thing.

  2. A touching story you share with us. He had a "nice" death for himself, quick and painless. For the family it is always a shock so suddenly without saying goodbye.
    Is that you the little cute one in the suit?

  3. LIke I said about the last post - this is the kind of honest thing we should all read. It's hard to say that I like a post like this - but it's so much better than most of what we all see on the net.

    I think I sign up for an end like that - but lets delay fir a while yet!

    Stewart M - Australia.

    PS: find it hard to believe that your State Government is basically saying "its not our problem" - who knows what will wash up.

  4. What a wonderful post and photo.

  5. i do agree - dying quickly, in your own bedroom - is a blessing. although a few more years together would have been a gift...

  6. This is an incredible story, thanks for sharing it with your readers. How dear, and precious that you now suddenly go back to those fond days with your grandfather.

  7. I's glad it was quick and painless - a true blessing. But it was hard for you and your grandmother, that much is evident.

  8. Grandparents have such a powerful influence on kids. They seem to teach us through life lessons.


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