A few days ago I paged through my planner reminiscing of what I had been doing exactly one month ago, two months ago, etc. I then realized that six months ago was the day I traveled to Denver. This day of travel marked the end of an era for me, my family & many others.
Handsome Randy tour manages & engineers sound for a musical artist who was bestowed with the honor of playing Red Rocks Ampitheatre for the first ever winter show. I was going along for the ride; I'd never been to Red Rocks, and have been told over and over of its breathtaking & amazing stature as a performance venue (so very true). Additionally, my Gramps' youngest sister, Grace settled in Denver and some of her children and grandchildren still live there. When I decided to go to the show, I made plans to have dinner with one of Grace's daughters, Paige & two of her children. My Gramps & I looked forward to this dinner; he adored Paige & I relished in the thought of connecting with her to tell him all about it.
In the weeks before these long awaited plans came to fruition, my beloved Gramps was diagnosed with terminal cancer. While it was devastating to my family on a lot of fronts, it was quite a way to leave. At 91 years, Gramps still lived in the apartment he'd lived in for nearly 25 years, was very much enjoying independent living, cooking & shopping for himself, driving his old red escort around, corresponding with friends & relatives regularly, active in local DFL politics & writing daily. His life was rich & was until the end. This is an amazing feat at age 91.
As the trip neared, Gramps & I talked it over daily. He was happy I was connecting with Paige. He couldn't wait to hear how "The Grace Davis Martins" were doing. However, in the days immediately before the trip, Gramps' condition began to deteriorate more quickly. The morning I left, I stopped at his apartment to kiss him. He looked the most frail I'd ever seen him. His eyes that day will forever tug my heart. He wasn't wearing his glasses, his ability to speak wasn't there; he looked so tiny & vulnerable in his bed. I told him I was off to have dinner with Paige & would see him in two days to tell him all about it. Though I knew I wouldn't; I knew this was it. He did too for he shook his head no, softly.
My first night in Denver, the long awaited dinner with Paige & two of her children (Rachel + Jesse) finally occurred. We talked of my Gramps, her mom (Grace) & all the happenings among our respective families. I then went on to a show that HR was engineering sound for at a nearby club. Rachel & Jesse came to the show as well; we watched it together. They were sweet, and although I'd met them for the first time only hours before, our familiy ties felt obvious & I didn't want to watch with anyone else.
The show ended & I said goodbye to my cousins. I texted with my mom regarding Gramps' condition. "He's sleeping now," she wrote, "I'll call you in the morning," This felt promising & I relaxed thinking that perhaps my intuition was wrong.
I walked to a pizza place with a few others. We joked about, I don't even remember, but I remember the walk was nice and we had fun standing in the pizza line waiting for our slices to go. On the walk back to the club, my mom called. I took a deep breath, hung back from my walking companions & answered.
He was gone.
When I hung up the phone I kept the news to myself. And for a time I just tried to feel his amazing presence leaving the earth, hoping he left some of his wisdom behind. I imagined him reuniting with his love, Fran, my aunt Pam, my uncle Mark, his mother, Dolly, all of his siblings & the many he deeply cared for whom he'd lost over the years.
The next day I sat in the Red Rocks greenroom & read two mysteries beginning to end. Gramps loved mysteries and reading them that day made him feel a little closer at a time when he was going further & further away. The familial love I felt that day from the artists & crew was amazing. Comforting. We have always said they are our extended family & that day it was more than obvious that they all truly are.
Paige's daughter, Rachel came to the show that night. I watched parts of it with her. Watching a concert with the granddaughter of my Gramps' sister whom he loved so very much, seemed like a great place to be as I began to come to terms with not having him on earth any longer. As we watched the show I waited for this song to be performed. That was my cue to look up at the vivid, bright starry Colorado sky choose a star, tell my Gramps how much I love him & thank him for being so great.
I have written this post so many times. In my journal, in my head as I am on a long walk, various unpublished drafts sit in my blog dashboard. This blog was silenced until I could get it finished & published. Somehow, that was a necessity before I could write about all the other things I've been itching to write about. In other drafts I wrote about memories, various points of my Gramps' wisdom & amazing abilities. In the end, I decided I would pepper my future writing with those things. What I needed was to do was recount the actual moments of loss. Reflecting upon & writing about those few days seemed right to me. I wrote this post nearly three weeks ago & let it sit. Tonight (August 15, 2012) after a final read & a few changes I have finally decided that it is good enough & finally the time is right. Thank you for reading.