>The tree in a hole/And the hole in the ground/And the green grass grows all around
July 19, 2008 § 3 Comments
>The big lesson this week, this year, this life: Love is (almost) never simple.
My father’s father died late last night. He is my first grandparent to pass away. It’s easier to state the facts than to know what to do with them.
A few months ago, I decided to reconnect with my father’s mother. I tried to call her one night and my grandfather picked up. My last phone conversation with him went like this:
Me: Is Grandma there?
G: Who’s this?
G: Why don’t you state your grandmother’s first name so I can make sure you’ve got the right connection?
M: You know what? Forget it.
And then I hung up.
I’ve known for a while that he’s been close to death. I’ve carefully considered how the end of his life would feel for him, but also for everyone in my family. He’s caused a lot of hurt and suffering, sleepless nights, anxiety for my family and myself.
He taught me stubbornness and resentment.
My only positive memory of him is from my life in Miami. This was years before I stopped speaking to him altogether (which happened around my first year in college). I must have been six or so. He tucked me in one night, and he taught me that song:
“And the green grass grows all around, all around, and the green grass grows all around.”
He sang verse after verse until either he got sick of singing or I fell asleep.
Here is an engineering article written by my grandfather in 1953 that I recently found. I know that he was discriminated against–unable to be promoted– at one point in his life because of being Jewish. He must have had many interesting stories to tell. It was clear that he had been badly bruised by life.
I can’t access the love I had for my grandfather now, but I am sure it still lives inside of me. I wish that he could be revealed, that I could somehow understand why he was the way he was. Instead, I am left with that big lesson. I’d like to meet this challenge.
To complicate things, today my Zaddie (my mother’s father) celebrated his birthday. Since his strokes, he barely does much besides sleep. I called today and he hurried to get off the phone. I heard his voice crack; he cries so easily now. He may be the only relation I have where love is truly simple. I have never known a kinder soul.