I had had the “death” talk before. Your parents sit you down; they tell you that something terrible has happened. In your mind, something terrible could be something as simple as they didn’t have any ice cream at the store, which you pray they will say every time. Then they tell you someone has “moved on”, “taken a vacation where they won’t came back”, “gone to heaven” or any other thing they could come up with. But four years ago, when I had this talk with my parents about my grandpa, it was different.
For one, I had known he was going to die for several months. My mom keeps leaving every couple weeks to fly out to Chicago to see him, and I wasn’t allowed to go because of how sick he looked. Two of my cousins, one years older than myself at the time went to see him and were recovering for weeks at what they saw. My mom told me it was not how I wanted to remember him. Second, my family seemed overwhelmed instead of mourning. When he was first admitted into the hospital it was after my mom kept pushing and pushing to get him in. She knew that he wouldn’t listen to her so she tried to get her sisters and brother to help. She said he was sick and had proof, but no one seemed to want to go out. When he was admitted my two aunts and uncle blamed my mom for not getting him in sooner. This was the beginning of the down ward spiral.
Everyone blamed each other for his death, getting mad over the arrangement and so on and so forth. My aunts were planning on first having the funeral on May 5th, my birthday, which my mom said was out of the question. This started up an argument, which almost immediately stressed everyone out, on top of the loss of our loved one. I learned everything from my mom’s arguments with herself in the car, but this only made me feel tense. Everyone was mad at each other, blaming, not really thinking of what had happened. As my family waited at the funeral, no one talking. We waited for the other funeral to go out when a few people started complaining. The smell of flowers was overwhelming a few of the cousins whose parents suggested we wait outside. Then my little cousin Meredith said “well at least grandma collie (my grandpa’s ex wife) will be waiting in heaven with flowers.” The thought was sweet, but Meredith didn’t know they hated each other.
None-the-less, this was our wake up call. My whole family had been thinking about how it happened more than what had happened. We all got up and started crying a hugging. We had finally gotten past our anger and realized what were supposed to do. None of us wanted to think about what we had done or said but we all forgave each other anyway. It amazing what the heart of a child can do to four angry siblings and their spouses.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.