Monday, May 21, 2012

Eleven Years Ago Today

So, I changed the look of the blog a bit.  I like keeps things as clutter-free as possible, and while I was happy with how the page looked before for quite a while, I wanted to see if I could make it even cleaner.  It's mostly done for the time being, though I'm still messing around with the font a bit.  I'm stuck between one with serifs and one without.  You might think this is trivial, but I assure you it is not.

Recently I'd been thinking a lot about my paternal grandfather and wasn't quite sure why, but then I remembered: May 21 is the day he died, back in 2001.  The date sticks out in my mind because I used to wish it was my birthday.  When I was little, I didn't like purple, which is the color of February's birthstone.  My favorite color then was green, and May's birthstone is the emerald.  The obvious conclusion I came to is that I should have been born in May.  May 21 to be exact, because I have always been a fan of exactness.

I lived wishing May 21 was my birthday for a few years until we got a phone call one morning letting us know my grandfather had passed.  When my little-kid brain realized it was May 21 I started feeling guilty, like I had focused on that date so much I had somehow inadvertently willed this into existence.  It wasn't like his death was sudden, it was a long, slow process of prostate cancer that spread into his liver, bones, and lots of other places.  It was the kind of death that was almost a relief, like at least he wasn't suffering anymore.  But still.  Why did I have to pick that date?

He was an old school, hard working man from West Virginia, a former moonshiner, avid gardener, and treated his grand kids like they were the pinnacle of creation.  My parents both worked, so most of my childhood was spent at his house (free babysitting) playing outside, listening to his old gospel tapes, and watching The Price is Right.  I find myself wondering what he'd say if he was here now.  What would he think of my nervous breakdown, or my choice to pursue writing over any sort of lucrative career?  He was such a practical man, I imagine we'd argue about these things, and I really wish we could.  I wish he was a feeble old man in his nineties, pounding his cane into the hardwood floor and he told me I needed to think about my future, and I'd tell him that I do think about it, that I think about it all the time and that's why I have to do things this way.  He wouldn't understand and I'd be upset, but not really mad because I'd know he just wants me to be okay.

Before he was too sick to move around or think clearly, he knew he wasn't going to see me reach adulthood.  So he bought my high school and college graduation cards ahead of time, signed them and put them in envelopes, and gave them to my parents.  They gave both of them to me when I graduated high school, but I saved the college one to open properly.  Three years later, after the six hour drive from my college back home (my last one), and I opened my dresser drawer where that card had been waiting and read it.  It was a religious card, as he was pretty big into god, and was signed "Grand Pa" and "Grand Ma."  I felt so simultaneously loved and cheated.  A person like that should still be here.

I spent this May 21 fretting over my teeth (I think I'm getting a cavity), installing my window-unit air conditioner, and watching the geese who've taken residence in the nearby pond trot out their fluffy little goslings.  Overall not a bad day.

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