My father passed away nine days ago at the age of 66. Although he was in his second round of chemo, my parents had recently purchased an ocean side condo in Florida and he was thrilled with this new chapter of their lives. He told my mom the day before he died that they had “bought paradise.” Last Saturday they purchased fishing poles, a tackle box, and lures. He was sorting through his tackle box in anticipation of their fishing “date” on Sunday. When he wasn’t feeling strong enough to walk later Saturday evening they called the rescue and within an hour he was gone.
You’re never prepared when you get that phone call. My father’s death seemed so sudden and unexpected even though he had been sick for four years. As his loving adult daughter, I was in shock but could eventually sort through the feelings of loss and gratitude for the years I had with my dad. It’s a whole different story when you have to explain to your four-year-old son that his Grandpa has left this earth. What is appropriate? How much should I say? My little guy is so innocent, so trusting, so joyful. I don’t want to take any of that away from him.
My husband and I agreed that we would explain it in “The Lion King” terms since this is a recent favorite of our little guy. I explained that just like Kion’s grandfather Mufasa is in the stars, now our Grandpa is in the stars. We talked about heaven and God and how Grandpa feels good now that he’s in heaven. My son mentioned that he’d like Grandpa to come back down from the stars because he calls him “Big Man.” I said that Grandpa loved him very much and he’ll always be Grandpa’s “Big Man.” We can look at pictures and think of Grandpa. My older nieces and nephews feel a responsibility to eventually pass down their stories and memories of Grandpa to my son so that he can “remember” him as well.
I also feel a tremendous responsibility to tell his story. I want my son to have a sense of where he came from. I used to write in a journal every day. Writing helped me sort through my feelings and gain perspective. Somehow, over the years I got away from it. This Slice of Life challenge was the boost I needed to get back to writing. I am grateful. Grandpa is in the stars. While I am still on this earth I will tap into all the potential I have.