I’ve always considered death to be the great equalizer. Regardless of who you are, your background, income, social status, etc. you will eventually die. This morning, one of those people was my grandfather Norman. While I usually use this blog as a forum to piss and rant about things that, while interesting, aren’t really relevant in the grand scheme of things. So bear with me.
Death is a funny thing. Just about everyone will handle it slightly different, especially when it is someone close to them. Some shut down, others get highly emotional, and still others detach. Many drink, most cry, and all feel something. I’ve never been one to mourn death. And although my grandfather and I were very close, I am not mourning this either. I’ve always chosen to celebrate life, look back on the positive things, and move on with life knowing that’s what the person would want. And Gramps was no different.
Sarcasm runs deep in the Norcross DNA, and he was a shining example of that. A few years ago, when purchasing a new mattress, the salesman included a pitch about the lifetime warranty. His response? “Who’s lifetime? Mine or yours? Because I’ll be honest, my remaining lifetime isn’t a selling point.” In the first day he was in Hospice care, when they asked him if he wanted something to drink, without thinking he replied, “double bourbon with ice.” That’s just the kind of guy he was.
Gramps was one hell of a fighter. A WWII vet, he raised 6 kids while managing to keep his sanity and sense of humor. At the age of 50, he had a grapefruit sized tumor in his stomach that was removed. He was “forced” to retire, so he and my grandmother moved down to Florida. When we arrived in 1986, they were here to greet us. I spent a lot of time with him growing up, since we were fortunate to live 15 minutes away. We built furniture to stay active. A few weeks after I quit drinking back in 2003, he had half of a lung removed due to cancer. After that he cut his daily beach walking down to 3 miles a day from his usual 7. He had to take it easy, of course. He still managed to build me a kitchen table for my first house, and other pieces of furniture. I’ve still got the desk he built when I was a teenager, and that will be my son’s desk.
He’s been in failing health the last few years, although you’d never know it. Another Norcross male trait is to minimize the appearance of any pain, either physical or emotional. His concern was for his family, and in specific my grandmother with whom he recently celebrated 65 years of marriage. Even in the end, his concern was to make sure she was going to be OK, since he’s in the early stages of dementia. They had just sold their house and was preparing to move into an ALF. He wanted to make sure she would be taken care of. His body must have known, since he went into the hospital the day after they signed the paperwork.
Gramps, I’m going to miss you. No two ways about it. But here’s to a great life. May you finally be at peace, and hopefully I can become half the man you always were.
You’ll notice I’ve closed comments on this post. While I do appreciate everyone’s well wishes, instead of a comment I am asking that you make a donation to the Suncoast Hospice Foundation. They took care of him at the final stages, and for that I am extremely grateful.