Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Goodnight, Doc

My grandfather died last night, and so did a part of me.

This was an unconventional grandfather-daughter relationship. My parents divorced when I was very young, and my (biological) paternal grandfather sort of took up the slack for his musician son. My grandfather was the whole fucking package: WWII vet, founder of the FIJIs at UW, became an eye doctor (I never correctly identify the term), taught himself to play piano (to bond with his son, my bio dad), windsurfer, real estate investor, state senator, head of the Democratic party, die-hard Husky football fan -- I truly can't say enough about him. Dynamic is the word that best described him.

My well meaning mother and new husband (my dad) somehow embarked upon this idea that we would pretend the first husband (and family) never existed. We never spoke about the bio dad or his family, or the life we once had with them. So well intentioned, so incredibly fucked up -- asking 8 and 6 year olds to pretend the past hadn't happened. My (how I hate this term) step-dad (step up) was very old school and divorce, I am guessing, was a verboten subject back then. My (step - ugh) dad wanted to be the voice of authority and decision, and he made so many incredible fuckups along the way. Abusive, obstinate, violent -- he just fucked up every way you can. Thing is, in hindsight, he was just a kid who fell in love with a woman with two kids. I kind of adore him now, for making that difficult choice.

But back to bio-grandfather. Bio-dad was a jazz piano player and player all around and was anything but a father. Grandfather was fairly well to do and paid his son's child support. He was also the lone remnant of that family that we were somehow allowed to interact with over the years, as we saw him every vacation. We boated, hiked, swam - he was just great to us. We loved our grandmother Mops (her name was Lorna, she died of breast cancer, and I hate that our loving nickname might have had something to do with her wigs), but my grandfather always held us as family.

I am kind of in shock, so I realize this might all sound disjointed. Mops eventually died, and Grandpa married Nikki. That is another story unto itself, but I will just say that Nikki was a neighbor who was also an attorney. I always admired Nik for her accomplishments, as she was very well respected as a trusts and estates attorney in the Seattle area. My grandfather adored her, even if she was a little cold, and was an impediment toward dropping in on my grandfather.

My bio dad died in January of 1998. He is the subject of another post, but suffice to say, I miss him every day. We had become close friends, and Grandpa was an extension of him. Grandpa loved that we had become friends and loved that I was wont to drop in on him when I was over on his side of the water. B absolutely loved my bio dad and my bio grandfather, the latter in particular.

Which, incidentally, made for a telling text message tonight. After calling my sister and my mother, I sent B a text, letting him know the Doc had died. B's response was very caring, but he said "tell your dad I am so sorry for his loss." Ummmm..... my bio dad died nearly 10 years ago? You helped with the memorial?

Anyway, it was telling, and I probably shouldn't be writing. I am so very devastated the I lost my Grandpa and want to wallow in my loss. God, I loved him and will miss him every day. I lost my last connection to the bio dad.


Talix said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, K.

One of the cornerstones of my foundation has a mass in her stomach - we're in the "testing and waiting" phase now.

Damn our limitedness and the aching beauty of it all.

Norm said...

So sorry, K.

cornutt said...

Thanks, you two. It was a difficult day, to say the least.

Law said...

Wow, I'm late.

So sorry to hear about this, K. I need to check in more often...