I never knew my Dad’s father. He was alive for 15 years of my life and he definitely was a constant in it. But I never knew him, the real him. Now that it’s September 21, and it’s World Alzheimer’s Day, I want to remember those last moments that I treasure so much.
To me he was always that grumpy old guy who -as far as I can remember- didn’t really talk to his grandchildren. I never had a close relationship with my Dad’s side of the family. I hated going to visit my grandparents because I was always bored and was rarely allowed to bring a friend. I never felt loved by them. Not until now that they both passed away.
But it’s especially my grandfather who’s stuck in me.
It’s been over nine years since he fell -maybe even jumped; we can’t prove that he did, but it’s a possibility- in the stream right by their backyard. He had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Due to his Parkinson’s, he walked around with a broomstick without the broom. He used it for support, and every night he would take a walk in the backyard.
On Monday June 13th, 2005, he took his last walk. The last couple of years of his life were really tough on him, both physically and mentally. He had to miss my Christian Confirmation because he didn’t have the strength.
One day, before the incident happened, I was lucky enough to get to see an entirely different side of him. And I’d never felt more loved than that day.
The Alzheimer’s had definitely done his damage on him and he asked about how my Mom’s side of the family was doing, several times. He forgot a lot of the stuff I told him and asked about it again and again.
I remember how he stared into the air while my Dad and his then girlfriend told my grandparents that she was pregnant and due on November. He was crying. I could tell he was sad about it, and I think that we both knew he wasn’t going to live that long.
I got three goodbye hugs from him that day. He kept forgetting that he’d already hugged me, but I certainly didn’t mind. He wasn’t someone who did that, and I don’t even remember hugging him before that day. He even hugged my then stepmother, albeit he didn’t like her.
I guess maybe he loved her for giving him another grandchild even though he knew he wasn’t going to live long enough.
Now that he’s gone and I know him a lot more than I ever did, I have to confess something.
I kind of hate my father for never sharing him with my brother or me. Now I know that I will make sure to share him with my baby sister who I know he felt sad that he’d never get to meet -even if his death wasn’t a suicide.
Only one photo exists of him and I together and it’s one of my most prized possessions.
I love and miss you, Grandpa, and I’m so glad that I now know and understand you in a way that so many others can’t.