... And then I had a bit of a creative tantrum, which was super cathartic. I feel much better, thanks.
I SPENT A LOT OF TIME WITH MY GRANDMA AND GRANDPA NESKAR, MY MOTHER’S PARENTS. THEY HAVE BOTH PASSED AWAY, BUT THE MEMORIES REMAIN. MY GRANDPA PASSED ON NOVEMBER 15TH, 1995 ON THEIR ANNIVERSARY. MY GRANDMA, AFTER MANNY YEARS OF MISSING HIM, JOINED HIM IN AUGUST, 2008. IT IS ACTUALLY MY GRANDMA WHO FIRST BECAME INVOLVED IN FRIENDS IN GRIEF, AS IT HELPED HER DEAL WITH THE LOSS OF HER BELOVED HUSBAND. THEY ARE BOTH MISSED VERY DEARLY.
This story with written 15 years ago, by a 17 year old me (Nicola Schneider, 1996) …
When I think of my Grandpa I think of many things, but my earliest memory would be sitting on his lap, “helping” him do his word-search puzzles. In actuality, I often, well… most of the time, found the words first. We’d sit for hours on his brown cushy rocking chair in the far corner of the living room, circling word after word after word.
From that same rocking chair, my Grandpa would watch people and birds through his binoculars. He liked people. He could talk for hours about anything from baseball to the bump on his forehead.
Oh, the bump on his forehead. That’s a story he enjoyed telling! “Grandpa,” I’d ask, “how did you get that bump on your forehead?”
“This here bump?” he’d say, pointing to that familiar lump, “I’ll tell you… You hit me in the head with a sledge-hammer and ever since, I’ve had this huge goose egg!”
“No, Grandpa! I didn’t,” I’d reply, giggling.
“Oh, yes,” he’d insist.
I always knew he was teasing for he had a kind, gentle way about him. It was he, my Grandpa, who first taught me to skate. Every Sunday, we’d head over to the arena where I’d slide a little on my skates, and even more frequently on my backside. But he’d always lift me up and guide me around the rink, until one day I could skate, all by myself!
Now, I think of my Grandpa whenever I go skating. He has recently passed on but he will live continually in the hearts of those who loved him, and especially in my heart. He will live on as he once was – not staring blankly or napping motionlessly in his rocking chair – but working on a word-search or peering through his binoculars… like he did when I was a child.
This was also written at that time by Me for an English Writer’s Craft assignment, Grade 12. It is loosely based in reality. I think I was going back to when I was younger. My Uncle, whom I loved dearly, died and my younger brother and I didn’t really understand what that meant. So, years later, when Grandpa died, I wrote this. I knew that Grandma was really sad because she missed her husband terribly …
What’s wrong with Grandma?
Grandma was crying. Grandma never cries, or at least never before this.
Grandpa is gone. That’s what Mommy told me. Gone where? I don’t exactly know but everyone is sad. I don’t understand why. Mommy and Daddy said he went to a better place; a place where he could be happy.
But why didn’t he take Grandma? He never goes anywhere without her. I think that’s why Grandma is crying. Poor Grandma. I’d let her come with me.
“Mommy,” I whispered, resting my head against her arm, “when is Grandpa coming back?”
“That’s when Mommy started to cry. “Mommy?” I said. I was very confused. Why was Mommy crying? Did she want to go with Grandpa, too?
Then Daddy said, “Pumpkin, Grandpa is not coming back.”
“Not ever?” I asked tearfully.
“No, I’m afraid not,” he answered, “but you must always remember that he loves you even though he is not with us.”
“Does he still love Grandma, too?” I asked, “And Mommy?”
“Of course he does, Pumpkin,” reassured Daddy.
Now Mommy had stopped crying. Her eyes were red and puffy, her face pale. She looked really sad. She told me that Grandpa went to a very lovely place in the sky where he can look down over us all, especially Grandma. One day, Grandma will join him there and they will be together again, but it is not time yet.
I pondered this for a while and realized that I still didn’t know where Grandpa had gone so I turned and asked Daddy. He said that Grandpa went to the same place as Mr. Orange, my pet fishy, and our cat, Scat Cat. You see, I found Mr. Orange sleeping on top of the water, one day. Mommy and Daddy told me that he had passed away and they flushed him down the toilet after saying some kind words about him. We didn’t flush Grandpa down the toilet so I don’t see how they could be in the same place.
Scat Cat was our old grey cat. (Not ours, really. He lived outside. Mommy and Daddy said he had no home.) I always thought that Scat Cat was a stupid name for a cat but that’s what Mommy and Daddy always said to him when they saw him in our backyard. But they always left him food and sometimes they let me feed him milk. I loved Scat Cat.
One day, Scat Cat did not wake up. Mommy and Daddy said that he had died, just like Mr. Orange. We did not flush Scat Cat down the toilet, he was too big, same as Grandpa. Scat Cat was buried in our backyard. Maybe Grandpa will see Scat Cat.Just then, my five-year-old cousin, Stevie came over to me. “Vickie,” he asked, “why is Grandma crying?”
“Because Grandpa is gone,” I answered.
“I know. Mommy told me,” he said, “but where did he go?”
I told him how Grandpa went to a really nice place in the sky where he can look down over all of us and how Scat Cat was keeping him company.
“But I want to see Grandpa,” said Stevie.
“Me, too,” I said. “Daddy says we can see him in the memories we have in our heads.
“Oh,” said Stevie, as he walked back to his mommy, my Auntie Lillian.
Daddy came over and said, “I heard what you told Stevie. It was the right thing to say. I think you helped him a lot. I’m proud of you, Pumpkin, for being such a big girl.”
“But Daddy, I still don’t understand any of this. I don’t know where Grandpa really is and I don’t like it when Grandma is sad,” I complained.
“It’s okay, Vickie. One day, you’ll understand,” he said. “Just know that Grandpa is okay and Grandma will be happy again.”
“Okay Daddy,” I said as he kissed me and then he left to comfort Mommy.
I ran over to Grandma and gave her a hug. “I love you, Grandma,” I whispered.
THIS POEM WAS WRITTEN A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, AS I LOOKED THROUGH OLD PHOTO ALBUMS… REMEMBERING….
JUST A DAY, ANY DAY, AT GRANDMA's & GRANDPA's HOME
GRANDMA IS IN THE KITCHEN.
GRANDPA IS IN THE SHED.
THE SUN SHINES. WARMTH ENTERS THROUGH THE WINDOW PANE,
CURTAINS FLUTTERING IN THE BREEZE,
WHICH BLOWS IN THE SMELL OF FRESHLY CUT GRASS.
GRANDMA IS ROLLING OUT DOUGH.
GRANDPA IS BANGING A HAMMER.
WE WANT TO BE IN TOO MANY PLACES AT ONCE.
THE LEGOS HOLD OUR ATTENTION FOR A WHILE,
BUT INEVITABLY, WE ARE
IN THE KITCHEN WITH GRANDMA, OR
OUT BACK WITH GRANDPA.
SNACK TIME… WE RETREAT TO THE LIVING ROOM TOWATCH OUR FAVOURITE TV SHOW (MR. DRESS-UP).
GRANDMA BRINGS OUR SNACK: APPLES CUT INTO PERFECTLYBITE-SIZED PIECES,
PREPARED WITH THAT SPECIAL LOVE ONLY
GRANDMA CAN GIVE, FOLLOWED BY THE HEAVENLY CRUNCHY
HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. THE STRAINED,
PULP-FREE OJ WAS THE PERFECT ACCOMPANIMENT.
GRANDPA COMES IN AND WASHES UP.
THERE’S NO WAY HE’S MISSING SNACK TIME!
AFTERWARDS, IT’S BACK TO WORK,
INSIDE, IN THE KITCHEN, THE DOUGH HAS BEEN FILLED
AND IS READY FOR THE OVEN.
OUTSIDE, THE LAWN MOWER HAS BEEN FIXED
AND GRANDPA CONTINUES HIS LAPS AROUND THE LAWN.
THE CHILDREN PLAY AS ONLY CHILDREN CAN…
“LET’SPRETEND; LET’S PLAY CHASE!”THEY ARE AS BUSY AS THOSE UPSTAIRS.
(NICOLA SCHNEIDER, 2007)
Today is a great day to create a great day.
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