Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Death Follows Us (on vacation)

That's a strange title, I know, but seems true nonetheless. And I don't mean to make light of a sad situation, just find it interesting... We arrived in Barcelona in January, 2010 with 2 kids and 2 dogs. In July 2010, we were on vacation in Costa Brava when we received a call that Sailor was very ill. The day of our return we had to say goodbye to our sweet little Sailor Moon. A few months later as we were searching for our rental home in Arles, France, we received a call that our dear friend Shane had died of a heart attack. He was 35 - too young. The next few years seemed to be death free, but in August this year, the day we arrived in Croatia, we received a call that Jake's health had declined significantly. The next day we had to have him put to sleep. So it should come as no surprise that Josh and I arrived in Florence, Italy on Friday and on Saturday morning I woke up to an email from my mom that my last grandparent had passed away.

I'm not looking for sympathy emails or posts related to this entry. I hadn't actually spoken to my grandfather in over 7 years for reasons still officially unknown to me though supposedly were related to the fact that we did not do a bris for Aidan and we're not raising him Jewish. He never even acknowledged Liam's birth nor did he ever meet him.  However, despite my rocky relationship with him over the last 7 years, I'm thinking back to words my mom recently said to me about another subject and trying to remember the good long history rather than focusing on the recent stuff that caused our estrangement.

My Zaide (as I called him) and I were close for almost 30 years.  We were especially close the year that my Nana passed away when I was 21.  I spoke to him almost daily back then.  I remember how much he was struggling to get thru each day without her.  And then he met his second wife and suddenly our relationship changed.

But I remember back to my childhood and all the happy memories.  Playing checkers.  We would always play checkers whenever I would visit.  And we would go to the basement where he had a treasure trove of history - some would perhaps call this hoarding (looking back that's totally what it was) but I loved every inch of the basement and all the knick knacks, books and family history that were contained in its walls.

Speaking of history, he helped to cultivate my interest in our family's past.  He was second generation in the US and his family had come from Eastern Europe - Russia and Poland.  Many had been lost in WWII and yet he pressed on to find ways to find just another branch on our family tree.  He was always excited to show me the latest on what he had found on our family tree.

Every year my birthday would fall during Boston's Scooper Ball, an ice cream festival that at the time was held near Frog Pond, not far from where Zaide would work.  I would go into Boston, a big deal for me as at the time I maybe went into the city once or twice per year, to meet him and he would take me to the Scooper Ball.  It was time where it was just us and I looked forward to that every single year. It was our tradition.

Even as an adult I would reach out to him at least once a week if not more often, just to catch up.  I remember going to his house to tell him I was pregnant with Aidan.  And the look of excitement knowing he was going to be a great grandfather.  He was soooo happy!!  And I remember him coming to see us at the hospital after he was born, a big trek for him as he was already 80.

There's so much more that I remember but I could go on forever - and quite honestly the last 7 years have put a bad taste in my mouth that I'd rather just leave it at these memories.  After Aidan, I just don't know what happened, before I became pregnant with Liam he just stopped returning my phone calls.  I have my theories but now I will never know.  We hadn't spoken a word in over 7 years and while I certainly made efforts with letters and an annual holiday card, I never received a word back.  He never met or acknowledged Liam in any way and had not seen Aidan since he was about 2.  So for the last 7 years I've been harboring anger and resentment because of the hurt he has put me and my family thru (as I'm not the only one he wasn't speaking with).  But like I said before, I'm trying to put the bad years behind me and focus on the positive impact he had on my life.

So I say goodbye to one more during our time in Europe.  I can only hope that this a trend that does not stick around!!


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