The old saying, “Save the best for last” never rings more true in certain situations in life. When my godfather died in 1992, at age 44, I was a senior in high school and was devastated. It was my first lesson in life that anyone could die young, even in your own family. He never had any kids but I always felt that when we were together he treated me like his own. I remember every birthday when I was younger I used to get a box of Topps baseball cards. The really big boxes, that had like 60 packs to open. Opening those was a huge thrill for me. On the back of each card was a trivia question and he was the only one in my whole family who would sit there with me for hours and ask me the trivia questions on those cards until I was tired and didn’t want to play anymore. He always tried to make things fun and of course you do not really appreciate those things until you no longer have them in your life.
When my grandfather died in 1998, at age 80, it was equally devastating. He was my buddy and looked a little bit like Colonel Sanders, the KFC chicken guy, without the beard but with the moustache. We used to have so much fun together. I remember once I was doing something in his garden, which was his pride and joy, and I let a machine get away from me as I was trying to till his garden and it plowed into the fence. God bless him for having the confidence in me to even think about using heavy machinery in his garden. I know he was on a very short list. The thoughts I had next after seeing the curved fence that shouldn’t be curved normally, probably aren’t repeatable here. All of the sudden I heard this laugh from the garage. It was my grandpa and he said, “It looked like the machine got away from you.” Thank god for my grandpa.
When my father died in 2006, at 57 due to a heart attack, you are thrust into a role you never imagined or dreamed of, but it is a role you gradually grow into. I have basically all women in my immediate and extended family so in a sense I was “the guy” in the family even though to this day you never assume or even want to assume that title formally. When my dad died it was really a chance to grow up, put prorities in order, take charge, and help those that needed help. It was a different feeling for me all together then the above mentioned people. It was sadness but it was also a chance missed on possible future opportunity-an opportunity to develop an even stronger bond with my Dad.
In February 2008 my Dad’s dad, my grandfather, died at 94. For me this feeling was peace for him and a life well lived. I was sad but our whole family was hopeful in a sense because he had such a good, long life. In a weird way it was a celebration of life, not a mourning of death. We ate, drank, and told stories and my grandpa ever prepared that he was had all of the arrangements made well before the funeral.
Everyone in my life who has the suffix father attached to it has passed on. I feel like I am the torch bearer for these men as life always has to carry on just as they would have liked it. Sometimes it downright sucks, and sometimes you feel happy for just having known my inner circle of guys.
I am sure others reading this feel similar thoughts to this as they reflect and think about both the happy and sad times when remembering a loved one. You SHOULD remember, it is what makes life so great. Reflecting on the memories and the lessons that loved ones teach you. Those are the things you carry with you forever and can be passed down to future generations.
As for myself, I am greatful that currently I am the last man standing in my family.
Eric TomeiTags: grief, hope