Today our plan was simple. Chill in the morning and head to the giant Prop 8 protest at the Capitol after. The protest was great. Tons of people. The kids did well despite the time of the protest being RIGHT at naptime, with the added bonus of no nap on Saturday as well. When we were done, everone was hungry.
On the way to get food, my dad called to tell me my Grandpa (his dad) was in the hospital again. He’s been chronically ill and on constant oxygen for a long time. His heart has been bad for awhile. He’s been in and out of the hospital so much the past 10 years that the doctors and nurses know his medical history without looking at the chart. Apparently he had a blood clot in his lung on Thursday, they removed it, and put in some sort of drain so that the clots would be less frequent. But this morning he’d been having trouble breathing so they decided to keep him in the hospital and put him on a respirator to help his breathing. I told my dad to keep me updated, and we all went inside to have a bite to eat.
N decided this was the perfect time to have a meltdown. The kids were promised ice cream if they ate their hot dogs, and he was refusing to eat so we were following through with the “no eat, no ice cream” policy. He flipped out and H took him to the car so J could finish hers and not be punished for N’s misbehaving. They were tired, so his lack of desire to follow rules was really not his fault, but he was screaming so it wasn’t ideal to keep him in the restaurant, even if there wasn’t anyone else there.
About 5 minutes later, I see H in the window with her phone, motioning me to come outside because it’s my brother. I left J and our nanny in the restaurant and headed out. My brother told me my parents had been trying to get ahold of me. I cut him off and said I had just talked to them about 20 minutes ago. He said, “He’s gone.” I was so confused. I said I just got off the phone with dad, what do you mean? He told me that in the time they were on the phone with me, apparently Grandpa had passed away.
In shock, I told my brother that he needed to keep me informed about services and such, and asked how dad was. He asked me if I’d come for the funeral, and I told him that I would go for dad, but not any other reason.
You see, this is the Grandfather who pretty much stopped talking to me after I moved away. This is the Grandfather who told my dad that he already had Great-Grandchildren when he was told he was going to be a Great Grandfather. This is the Grandfather who, at my brother’s wedding, had to be told that the twins were from MY EGGS so that he would understand they were his Great Grandchildren. The Christmas following my brother’s wedding, my Grandfather requested to see the twins. I told my parents (we were visiting for the holiday) that one sideways word from him and we’d be out the door. That was the last time we saw them. The twins were 7 months old. They bought them a present that they adored until they recently grew out of it. And that’s it. No Christmas cards, nothing. At one point, before the twins were born they apparently had complained that I never call. Except I had called and left messages before to never have them returned, so I stopped trying.
I don’t know how to feel. I’m sad. But I’m more sad for my dad who’s lost his dad. Because I feel like all I’ve lost is the chance for him to make amends for treating me like I wasn’t his granddaughter anymore. I’m so conflicted. He paid for my college education, with money my grandmother had put away starting when I was born. He put limits on the money – I had to live at home otherwise I was on my own. He paid the tuition for my trip to England. But what I remember most is that he and my Grandmother, when she was still alive, were the kind of grandparents who saw grandchildren as an inconvenience. Seen and not heard. He was always there, for the really big stuff, but never really participated. It was always out of duty. Or at least it seemed that way. Maybe it was the military background – don’t show emotion.
So I don’t know what to feel. I laid on the couch tonight with N asleep on my chest for almost 2 hours and I could only think about how I just sort of feel empty about the whole thing. And I feel bad for not knowing how to feel. Like it somehow makes me a bad person that I’m not completely falling apart over a man who thought I was living a bad life. But the truth is, I’ll never know what he really thought, because he never told me. His actions made it seem that way. But I’ll never really know.
And I’m not sure I know how to feel about that, either.