But I Don’t WANT To!

I’m sticking to the plan–consumed about 1250 calories yesterday, ate 5 servings of veggies, kept my carb calories to 50% and protein and fat calories between 20 and 30% each, drank my water, went to the gym, and did as much work at the office as I could reasonably expect to complete in this mindset.

I’m just really damn grouchy. I don’t think it’s the restricted calories. I think it’s just being so damn tired and having to manage feelings that have been haunting me ever since I first learned my grandfather was sick and was going to die eventually as a result.

The only thing I know how to do in all of this is to treat myself well. That includes:

  • Having time to myself.
  • Sleeping (I’ve been in bed between 10 and 10:30 and don’t wake up until 6:30-ish at the earliest on workdays; I sleep later on weekends).
  • Reading. It has been my consolation lately. But when Miranda told me she loved Aimee Bender, she left out how whack “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” gets towards the end. I’d love to say more, but don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
  • I’m blogging, following the diet and exercise plan and writing out task lists. This structure helps me feel “normal.”

In reality, there’s this little devil sitting on my shoulder pushing me to eat the post-funeral sweets that Evan and I packed up and brought home. It’s telling me I should skip today’s run and take a bubble bath or get a mani/pedi instead. It’s making me think about getting a tall  venti nonfat CAFFEINATED latte from Starbucks. All. The. Time.

Instead, I look at the word “patience” inked on my wrist, and I tell myself that this, too, shall pass. Because I’m not a quitter, and I know that this works–that ultimately, this will make me feel better.

In the meantime, I share with you the eulogy I wrote for my grandfather’s funeral. I kinda feel like all the family encouragement I always got to write and my overall love of writing was really just to give me something that I could do for that day.

I am Tina, Charlie’s eldest granddaughter.

By sharing these memories, I want to honor my grandfather’s spirit, his strength, sense of humor, and his commitment to and love of family.

In his final days, he was surrounded by his wife and children, but us grandchildren were separated by miles, states and even continents. It’s rare our generation gets to hang out, but last night we did in honor of our grandfather and the importance he placed on family connection.

Ten years separate this generation, but it was funny to see how many memories of him were the same. We all remember the trips in the truck to the dump. We all experienced learning to drive the riding mower by sitting on his lap, steering and shifting between turtle and rabbit speed. We all can mimic perfectly and know the difference between his “Awww Suzie” voice when she was kicking his butt in cards and his “Suziiie” heard most frequently if she was making a sneaky move. Finally, we all experienced getting reprimanded by my grandfather–whether it was due to being too giggly at a sleepover or running around the pool and not understanding the safety risk. The best part? There was always an underlying smirk that betrayed a seemingly authoritative voice. Despite the hassles we gave him, he liked having us around.

An example of one of these hassles? Brian was home alone with a friend and his brother Stevie, watching a scary movie when something flew overhead. A bat. The boys covered themselves in blankets and armed themselves with badminton rackets until grandpa showed up–with the pool skimmer–to catch and release the uninvited guest. At 1am. He was our superhero, and he wasn’t upset about the late night wake up call.

We can’t say my grandfather was that calm when he was flagged down in traffic by a passing motorist who was concerned that my grade-school aged brother and cousin were in the back seat, peeking out the rear view window, giggling as they gave other drivers the finger. However, he laughed with the rest of that as that story has been retold and remembered in the past 2 decades.

Some of the best moments of our lives were spent at my grandparents’ house. Summers by the pool, splashing around and taking snack breaks to hunt for fresh tomatoes, berries or rhubarb in the garden. Winters in the basement learning to play pool or at the dining room table playing Uno or SkipBo.

My grandparents also spent several winters in Florida–those winters seemed to drag on for us grandchildren, even though several of us were away at college at the time. My junior year, Brian’s sophomore year, we had the same spring break and we decided to spend it in Florida–like all College kids do, right? Not quite. We spent it with my grandparents in a peaceful quiet retirement community. Afternoons included watching a few soap operas and a nap, we drank gin and tonics while playing cards and went to bed by 10pm. It was better than any trip to Cancun or Ft. Lauderdale would have been. Brian  and I are also convinced that they stopped the trips not long after because a cold, snowy winter with us was way better than a few lousy months in Florida.

The last time I was home, grandpa had just been moved into St. Joe’s Living Center. All he wanted to do was go home, and although he was weak and ultimately was the beginning of the end, he was fighting to get better. I can’t tell you how much it saddened me that he seemed to have lost his love of cards. The family played as he napped or while he watched TV. Then Denise said something that got him going. She said “Dad… read the paper, it will help keep your mind sharp.” Suddenly, he was pulling out the Chronicle, pouring over every article as if each one was a Pulitzer prize winning article. Of course, we all know the Chronicle is 8 pages on a good day, so soon after, he was ready to play Skip Bo. He played with the intention of kicking our butts, memorizing each card that lay under a wild card, so he could play swiftly and with purpose.

In his final weeks, he still maintained his sense of humor and the ability to be mischievous. He’d whip out witty remarks and funny one-liners at a moments notice. His face was so animated and was able to communicate a message when he was too weak to speak.

While my entire family has celebrated my 70lb weight loss, my grandfather was the first to say he was proud of me. Not because I looked better but because I was healthier. He understood it, having made his own dietary changes as relatively minor diet- and age-related health issues popped up.

That’s not to say he was perfect. My sister remembers the time he was trying to follow a low cholesterol diet but still wanted the occasional ice cream indulgence. While running errands, he brought her to Shady Glen and they had peppermint ice cream, only to come home to my grandmother’s Nancy Drew style sleuthing who realized he cheated on his diet and gave him hell for it.

I remember watching my first scary movie while laying on the couch with my grandfather. My parents probably better remember the nightmares I had later that night.

While we didn’t often watch movies together as a family, there was at least one that was memorable. Grandpa had a free Showtime or HBO weekend and taped the Sylvester Stallone hit “Cliffhanger.” I will never know whether it was his inability to use the VCR or just an appreciation for irony that resulted in the movie cutting off in the midst of the suspenseful final scene. Apparently, Jennifer still doesn’t know what happened at the end of Forest Gump due to a similar cliffhanger recording.

My grandfather also knew that sometimes you make sacrifices for the one you love: like knowing you would never again be able to wear your favorite yellow shirt because your wife can’t stand the color on you or eating frozen broccoli for more than 40 years without telling your wife how much you hate it. I have always been in awe of my grandparents marriage. Not only did they still love each other after 59 years together, but they liked each other. When reminiscing about the fashionable bikinis my grandmother wore (and rocked) well into her 50s, my grandfather said “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” I agreed and commented on how skimpy bathing suits are nowadays. He said, “No. I mean they don’t make women like they used to.” On Christmas Eve in the overcrowded living room, my grandmother’s seat was always reserved–it was on his lap. All of us grandchildren are in awe of the love that they have for each other. They took the vows in good times and in bad and in sick times and in health to heart.

To many of my cousins, he was Grandpa Charlie, but to me he was just grandpa, as I didn’t have any other.

Poet and artist Kahlil Gibran once wrote “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

We all shed tears of sorrow today, but please know that each of those tears reflects a wonderful memory we have of grandpa Charlie.

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6 responses to “But I Don’t WANT To!

  1. That is such a nice and loving eulogy. Sounds like a wonderful man who brought much joy to you and others!

  2. Oh Tina, I loved this so much. I lost my grandma in February, so this really resonated with me. You are a very talented writer.

  3. What can I say? You wrote a wonderful tribute for your Grandpa. You are a beautiful,talented woman and writer. I’m sure your Grandpa knew that you were one that was” made just like they used to.” Hang on to those memories!

  4. (((((HUGS)))))

    That’s all. 🙂

  5. That is beautiful Tina, and I am so sorry for your loss 😦

  6. Great speech! Those memories will surely become your best of friends on the journey ahead.

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