Saying goodbye

Ollie and his great-grandparents

My grandmother died quite suddenly on Veteran’s Day. Since she was “only” eighty-eight, and the youngest of my four grandparents, all living until 2009, I wasn’t prepared. In retrospect it seems ridiculous to not be prepared when someone’s eighty-eight, but that seemed young, especially because she was so active and energetic.

Ollie was very close to her, his “GG” (great-grandmother), and as I frantically made plans to visit with her one final time, Jason and I struggled to explain what was happening. It’s been hard for him to comprehend, and it’s led to lots of awful questions and statements.

Ollie and GGPa

Now my grandfather, after losing his wife of sixty-six years, with his health already in decline, is nearing his end. We’ve had more time to warn Ollie of what’s imminent and about once a week I sit with Ollie to talk about it.

Ollie’s not entirely clear on the concept of marriage, so often he’ll ask my father if my mother is his “friend”, and sometimes he’ll say she’s his special friend. I like this idea of marriage.

The other day Ollie and I had a talk about GGPa. I told him GGPa’s old body wasn’t working anymore, and that very soon he would die. I started to cry.

“It’s ok, Mommy,” he said softly, looking at me, “because when he dies he can go in the same hole as GG! And they’ll be together, because they’re special friends.”

Somehow that’s the most comforting thing I’ve ever heard.

My Grandma & Grandpa

8 thoughts on “Saying goodbye

  1. sending you an internet stranger hug.
    (i’ve been around here for a long long time. i’m so glad you are coming here more often.)

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. And Ollie has such a lovely way of viewing GGPa declining health. Your story brought tears to my eyes.

  3. beyond: Yes, it’s from after their wedding, 1944. Soon after my grandfather shipped out for the Pacific.
    And thank you all.

  4. Sending love & support to everyone Meg. Since recently losing our Big G on this end, little dude has also been asking a lot questions and saying some hard things to hear, which are honest & true but blunt. A “GG died” can be proclaimed by Dude at any time during the day and as I start to tear up and say “yes, yes she did” he will say very confidently “It’s OK, I can still think about her even if I don’t see her, right?” Yes, yes you can…please.

  5. A stranger stopping in to say so sorry for your loss. I just lost my own father far too early, and I must say Ollie’s sense of things is amazing and beautiful. Kids…they get it right. Innocence brings with it such wonderful perspective. If only we could all hold on to that…

  6. I am so sorry for your loss… Ollie’s perspective was both beautiful and emotional. Thanks for sharing the lovely family photos…

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