I hope to draw you into the the diatribe that is the rest of this post by giving you perhaps the Best Dirty Joke. Ever. In my mind, it is always in capitals, perhaps on a marquee surrounded by big flashing lights and hoards of people gripping their sides and crying tears of utter contentment.
The Hallmark Company was going to hire a person to write verses for their new line of greeting cards. The Executives were interviewing two people who had applied for the job. One was a Harvard graduate; the other one was a man from Eastern Kentucky
One of the Hallmark Executives gave the two applicants their directions: STAND AND RECITE A VERSE THAT CONTAINS THE WORD “TIMBUKTU” .
The Harvard man jumped up and said he would go first. He said:
Far across the dessert sands
Camels traveled in caravans.
One by one, two by two,
Well, the Hallmark people clapped and cheered and said that was really good for such short notice.
Then the man from eastern Kentucky stood. He pulled up his pants high about his waist and said:
Well. Up in the woods Tim and I went.
We Found three whores and a BIIIG old tent.
Them bein’ three and us being two,
I bucked one, and Tim bucked two.
-Unknown Original Source
This was above and beyond my grandfather’s favorite joke to tell. I cannot think of a family member that does not carry a copy of this in their wallets, have it hanging in their lockers or can recite it from memory on cue.
My grandfather, my Papaw, passed away two years ago today. I vaguely remember being shattered by this memory last year. It was a hard year after he passed and knowing that he had missed a whole year with his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren left me feeling emotionally hallowed out. This year, I am able to focus more on the memories that I cherish. These memories of experiences with perhaps the greatest man I have ever known, at least until I met my husband, have shaped me into the person that I am today.
My grandparents love story is epic; I suppose everyone says that and I would undoubtedly believe every word they said, but for me the love story of these two people seems to transcend even the most romantic books ever written. Being an avid reader, I can attest to this fact without pause.
Honestly, at the moment I am a little at a loss of what to write, there are so many things that I want to share; things about my grandparents and their epic love story, a self made man that came from nothing, a correspondence with Norman Rockwell’s that spanned years, a community figure that relished telling excessively dirty jokes and the ever present rock that this family leaned on. It could go on for hours and hours, days and days, and still I would not be satisfied that I had covered all that I wanted to.
Instead, I want to show grief, if you will allow me to do so. This excerpt was written the night he died two years:
There should be a sense of relief, in the front of my mind I know that this is what he would have wanted. He went with grace and dignity even after 6 months of fighting something that was so obviously killing him. The tumors could be felt beneath the skin, the oxygen tank was ever present and I believe he was ready to let go in the end. To be done with the act of dying.
The last night I spent with him, dozing on the couch next to that awful hospital bed that invade my grandparents home was a perfect example of the ornery goofball I had always known
“Rachel….Rachel…Rachel…FOLK” he hollered from the bed.
“Ok, Ok I’m up, I’m up! What’s going on?” I said with sleep still heavy in my voice.
“Oh nothing, you just looked so peaceful I thought I would wake you up” he said with that wry grin in his voice.
After that his breathing went down to about three breaths a minute, but he hung on for another full 24 hours. He was a tenor his entire life and the doctor explained that he was breathing so deep from his diaphragm that he was still getting enough oxygen to survive. God he had a beautiful voice, we have been playing his recordings for days or our sake more than is I suppose. A small comfort for a situation that is anything but.
Plans for the funeral are already completed, now all there is to do is survive the next few days and lay him to rest.
*(Please forgive poor grammar, incorrect puncuation and ranting. It was a long day)*
I thought the act of burying him and knowing that is suffering had ended would bring closure to the whole situation. I worked in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Ohio State University to pay for school and have seen hundreds of people die. In all by 3 cases, it was always a blessing rather than a curse.
Didn’t really work out that way.
I missed him more than I thought possible and lingered with this feeling that was always present, something that gets stuck in your teeth and try as you might you keep noticing it’s presence.
The following excerpt was written last year:
There is a weight, I can feel it in my chest and in my mind even a year later. I have actively avoided going to see the gravesite, so much so I sat in the car in ninety degree weather just to not take that walk of the hill to see where he rest. The picture in my head is that of his coffin being lowered, Trevor and I were the only ones that could stand with my grandmother as this happened while the others fled to safer distances where they would not have to watch. I envy them.
How is this so impossible still? Memories, songs, sights, smells. I feel like since the end of March I have been consumed by my memories and none of them are good. I want to remember the good things but all I remember is the end. How unpalatable it is to perseverate on the memories that cause pain when there was 24 years of damn near magic where his life was concerned. He would hate this; he would hate that any of us are suffering and he would hate that the memories we seem to be left with are the unsavory ones.
The worst part about this is that HE is the one I would call on advice on how to handle the damning situation. The cycle of anger and grief, well, it sucks. Throw out eloquence Rachel it just sucks the root. The scariest thing about all this is the hopefully irrational fear that I will never remember anything good. Six months of doing his hospice care is what I remember, where is the rest?
He would absolutely hate this.
I am not ashamed of these feelings or the fact that I am writing so bluntly about them. When loss takes over, we can easily lose ourselves in it. I sure as hell did. But over the last year the seas have calmed, the clouds have cleared and when I speak about him all I feel is a privilege to know that I am more like him than anyone in the family. He is always with me because he is so much a part of my personality and so much of my history. Today, two years after we carried him from the hospice bed to the ambulance (health care providers, of which my family is full, would not allow anyone else to transport him) all I feel is the warmth of memories.
Kuddos to you if you got this far, I hope you have because seeing in black and white that grief passes is something that is so near and dear to me. So, to a wonderful man that gave me my sense of humor, my drive to work hard and my ability to be an uncanny smartass.
He would absolutely love this.
Thank you for sharing so honestly about your grandfather, your grief and the place he still holds in your heart. My grandparents died within 3 weeks of each other 13 years ago. And I still have times when I miss them terribly. I am thankful to have so many wonderful memories.
I have wonderful memories of my grandparents and I am glad you do to. No one is ever really gone, they continue to live in our minds!