My grandfathers had both passed before I was born, and my grandmothers lived 3000 miles away. I never had the experience of other children who had Sunday dinner with their meme and pepe, or spent weekends with them or anything like that. I love my grandmothers and enjoyed the time we spent together, but it wasn’t part of my tradition.
My spouse, though, he had that classic childhood experience with his grandparents. I met them fifteen years ago, unaccustomed to the paradigm and terrified to meet my boyfriend’s family. They welcomed me instantly, shrimp cocktail at the ready. When I left that first day, they told me they loved me. And for fifteen years, they haven’t stopped.
The love his grandparents had for each other was obvious. They respected and cared for one another and attempted to make everyone they met feel cared for. She could remember details, which were woven into his stories. He loved telling stories. Having lived through the Great Depression and Normandy, he had some that would thrill you, but he preferred to make you laugh, and if not laugh, then to think. He lived to share these stories.
In fact, the name his grandchildren picked for him came from the story of the Wide Mouth Frog. “Pum! Pum!” the frog would croak. “I’m a wiiiide moooouth froooog.” The story became synonymous with him, as all good stories stick to their teller. He was his stories.
Yesterday, Stanley passed away.
I cannot be sad, really. He was 95 years old, had spent 70 with the woman of his heart, and until the last was present in his mind and independent. He knows that he will be with his Lord, and was able to have that meeting while his earthly form slept at home, hand in hand with his beloved. It’s hard to be sad for someone who had such joy in life, so much time to live it, and went to the next one as peacefully as any of us could hope.
And you know what? It still sucks. It’s still hard to lose the person who helped raise two of my favorite people, who so generously shared their family with me, who ate Thanksgiving with us and officiated my wedding. It’s hard to lose him, it’s hard to know you’re losing someone, and it’s an adjustment to being in a world without someone you’d grown used to having there.
So many of you have already reached out to share your condolences, and they are appreciated, sincerely, but we are at peace with his passing. We had time to make sure everything was said and done before he left us, and while some moments will now be different or tinged in loss, for now at least I can say that there is no regret. I will remember him as he lived, and hope to share his stories.
These are the things we are left with. These inevitabilities, these small yet so often crushing sorrows and the bittersweet need to adapt to a new future in which constants are no longer constant are the threads that bind us together. And the stories we carry for each other are our signature on this earth.
I don’t want to get any more sappy than I already have, so I’ll cut this off here. I hope we all have ninety-five years of health, and if we all have a fraction of the adventure and affection in his life, we would have such stories as any would be honored to carry for us.
Rest well, PumPum.