Saturday, August 7, 2010
One of the most difficult pieces of the decision to move thousands of miles away from home is saying good-bye to family and friends and wondering if those are the last words or hugs you’ll ever exchange together. Sure, we should all be conscious of this every time we walk out the door. You never know the last moments you’ll see those you love so dearly. But when you move away for an extended period of time you think about it more. There’s a sense of fear, a little dread, all the What Ifs. And sometimes those What Ifs unfortunately come true.
One of the hidden blessings of our being home in Cleveland last year for an extra 2 1/2 months was that we were able to take a second trip to Philadelphia to visit Steve’s grandparents, otherwise known as the very awesome Nana and GP. After a blizzard kept us from flying there to spend Christmas together in ’08, we promised them we’d take a more lengthy trip east during good weather in ’09. And we did just that. We spent close to a week in June hanging out at Nana and GP’s retirement community. We took trips to Target, ate hoagies, and I finally met some of Steve’s extended family for the first time.
Having not moved to Korea by September the way we had planned, we decided to take yet another trip to Philly for a family reunion. We spent even more time together and ate more wonderful East Coast food. We knew GP’s health was not the best, but they gave us their blessing to set out on the adventure of a lifetime.
I have said on numerous occasions how lucky we are to be doing this in a technological age. We were able to keep up our communication with Steve’s grandparents through care packages, cards, and the magic of Skype. Recently, however, GP took a turn for the worse, and we waited anxiously by the computer for any news. On Friday, he passed.
Though I have only known him for the last 8 years, I can say that GP will always remain in my mind and heart as a wonderfully strong person with a soft voice. I treasured our conversations when both he and Nana would get on the phone and we’d talk for close to an hour at a time. For a good laugh, Steve and I often imitate their dynamic relationship. Nana with her no-nonsense Philly accent always calling GP The Old Goat, and GP’s usual response of “Oh, Peg”. I’ve grown to love them both as much as my own grandparents.
My personal beliefs extend far beyond the box in the ground at the end of life as we know it on Earth. There’s a certainty to this belief that I discovered when I lost my own grandparent, the equally awesome Grammarie. It’s a certainty I hope Steve feels in the coming days and years. The presence with you. Remembering an old memory or piece of wisdom when you least expect it. An appearance in a dream so that you wake up the next day feeling as if you had one more moment together.
GP was a wonderful man with a wonderful family that I am privileged to be a part of. May he always rest in peace.