Losing a Hero

There’s a voice mail that you never want to receive. It goes something like this:

It’s your mom. Call me. It’s an emergency.

I returned the call hoping that the emergency was that her wireless Internet was giving her fits again. It wasn’t the case. She told me that my paternal grandfather had a heart attack. I asked if he was okay or if we needed to come immediately.

He didn’t make it.

And my world crumbled.

My grandfather, fondly called Papau by the lot of the grandchildren, was a rock in our family. A strong, loving man, he taught me how a man should love a wife by the way he devoted himself to my wonderful grandmother. He taught me to stand up straight, correcting my posture so I wasn’t slump-shouldered. Maybe that seems silly but it was something important that I learned in how to carry myself. He loved me even in the most difficult times of my life.

He was one of my heroes.

As we were driving around on the day of my dad’s surprise birthday party this past September, we had a discussion that he felt he needed to have to set things straight. I wonder now if he knew. I wonder, now, if I didn’t know something was up. Two weeks ago I thought about what I would say at his funeral. He wasn’t sick and I chastised myself for even entertaining the thought. On Saturday morning, almost exactly 24 hours before he collapsed, I bought a new black dress for the funerals I assumed we would be attending this year. Some members in my husband’s family are sick.

I didn’t realize I’d be wearing it a few short days later to my own grandfather’s funeral.

I am devastated. The family is devastated. BigBrother doesn’t quite understand. And, sadly, LittleBrother will be the first to forget him, eventually likely to claim that he never remembered him. That, in itself breaks my heart. More time. For them. For myself. I hate that I didn’t get to say goodbye.

The family is flying in from all parts of the country. His sister, eleven years his elder, will be in this evening from Arizona. The youngest of grandpa’s three sons, my dad’s youngest brother, arrived this morning from Philadelphia. The middle brother arrives via a flight from Tampa and a layover in Charlotte early this afternoon. While I love when the whole family gathers on The Farm, creating a cacophony of noise and laughter, the truth is that the whole family won’t be gathering. We’re missing one. And I’m just heartbroken.

I prefer to remember him these ways. With my children. With the woman he loved so dearly.

With BigBrother

With LittleBrother

On Their 50th Anniversary

I have so much to say about the loss of a man who meant so much to me. I have so much to say about how this loss has clarified why people do turn to the Internet in their hour of need. I have so much to say… but all I could do yesterday was take a picture. It was raining. It was appropriate.

The sky cried with me.

The Sky Cries, Too

Please keep my family in your prayers. Most of all, please keep my grandmother in your prayers. She is understandably crushed by the loss of the only man she ever loved. 53 years of marriage and a story that began when she was an infant. Theirs is the most beautiful love story. So, please, say a prayer for her.

(If you have interest in attending the viewing, the funeral or sending something, please contact me by twitter, email or phone. Leave a message if I don’t answer.)

25 replies on “Losing a Hero”

I’m so sorry for your loss. My deepest condolences to you and your family. Losing a family member is hard enough. Losing a family pillar is worst. Our prayers go out to you.

I am very sorry for your loss. The picture of him in the tux he looks so proud to be dancing with your grandmother. You can see the love.

Oh, Jenna, I’m so sorry for your loss. I will keep all of you – especially your grandmother – in my prayers. When you feel strong enough, when the time feels right (and I know it might not feel like it for a long time), I’d love to hear the story you alluded to about your grandparents. It sounds like a truly remarkable story and I know from looking at those pictures that a person can’t fake the kind of happy. I’d love to read anything you’d like to share. Until then – peace, strength, and happy memories, dear.
.-= Katie in MA´s last blog ..A spurt of productivity. =-.

I am so sorry. My grandpa died when I was 4 and I have some memories of him so hopefully LB will have some of his own as well. I also felt like I knew him through how others talked of him and the stories they told. Both my grandmothers died 3 weeks apart from each other this fall, so I know what you are going through. Its hard. There is just no way about it.

Oh, girl, I cry with you! I lost my granddad back in august….4 days before my college classes started. I know what you are feeling. Please know I will be thinking of you and praying that the Lord be with you all during this time!

Although I’m a stranger, and just happened upon this post (I was drawn here by your blog name…very clever) I was touched and so sad to hear about your loss. The pictures you posted are amazing…they are obvious treasures. Capturing someone in a moment where so much can be seen…that is a gift. You said that your grandparents love story if something else…I encourage you to write it down (not here, necessarily, but somewhere) so that those who remember them can pass it along to those who come later. You can help him leave his legacy. :) I hope that’s all right for me to say. Peace and comfort for you all.

Complete internet stranger here, who just jumped over from your comment on the blogHer post about not having choices. I’m so sorry you’ve lost such a special person in your life. Inevitably it will leave a hole in your heart, but there’s a piece of him left for you to cherish in those beautiful children of yours. I’ve bookmarked your blog.

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