Most times I dedicate this blog to all the fun things in life. But sometimes life gets in the way. My grandfather died. Normal day in a suburb of Long Island. Watering plants in the living room. Falling to the floor, still clutching the water can, he never woke up.
One day someone is here, and the next they are in another place, unreachable.
Every time I spoke to my grandpa on the phone, the conversation would go like this:
Me: Hi Grandpa. Its Lei Lei.
GP: Oh Lei Lei! Hello. How are you? I miss you
Me: I miss you too grandpa. Merry Christmas (or insert any holiday here)
GP: Merry Christmas! I love you, I miss you.
Me: Me too grandpa
GP: I love you, miss you, take care of yourself ok. Ok good bye. Bye. Bye.
Yes- each conversation would last no more than 3 minutes. My grandpa was from an era of MCI long distance phone bills. Being ever so efficient, he used few words as possible to get his message across.
I don’t remember having long conversations with Grandpa. He kept things simple. Instead, I remember Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. Brooks Brothers suits. A garage full of his favorite things. That forever clean Lincoln town car.
A side effect from divorce, we only spent two weeks out of year with our grandparents in New York. Short summer trips. We all made the most out of the time we spent together.
Niagara Falls. Toronto. Clamming. Shopping. Disney and more.
Here’s an old photo of us crabbing- Me in junior high, Wendy in high school, and Grandpa enjoying retirement.
My grandpa was stylish even at the pier. I was in my frizzy hair phase… don’t laugh.
Thinking about these things make me smile and cry. I miss those simple happy moments. I’ve been MIA the recent years, but I hope he knew that I loved him unconditionally.
After the funeral
After things settle down, we transition to logistics. I Go into my grandpa’s room and clear out his things. I find at least 20+ new shirts. Countless boxes of unworn shoes. I don’t know what I should keep and what I should donate. I fight the urge to hoard everything. Its best to let go.
Emotions running high
I bet my grandpa tried yelling from the spirit world to “Stop! Don’t fuss over me.”
We didn’t hear him.
Arguments. Crying. Anxiety. Headaches.
I don’t deserve to complain. My grandma and grandpa have been married for 65 years. When I leave for the airport tomorrow, she will be alone in the house for the first time ever. Sometimes she is ok, and other times she isn’t. You can tell when she forgets momentarily that he is gone. As if he stepped out to pick up something from the grocery store. I wish we could keep pretending that he is going to be back any minute.
William Chow’s life ended on February 4, 2017. Rest In Peace Grandpa. You were the balance to our madness and we will miss you forever.
If I could phone my grandpa one last time, I would simply say “Hi Grandpa. Its Lei Lei. I miss you and love you. Don’t worry….I’ll take care of myself. Good bye.”