No Grandparents Left

Both of my grandparents on my dad’s side died within a month of each other. My grandma was 89 and my grandfather was 91. They will be missed.

2019 has been a year of death for me. I miscarried on January 2nd. My uncle on my mom’s side succumbed to the affects of zealous chemotherapy for his pancreatic cancer at the end of June. A friend of mine lost her father in May. My grandmother died in July. My grandfather died less than a week ago.

Even stranger grandpa died on what would have been grandma’s 90th birthday.

My dad said, “Probably you’re grandma came to collect your grandpa. He had been on Earth long enough. Heaven can’t wait.”

I got a little misty-eyed. I know it’s true. I had not seen either of them in five years. Not since I permanently moved to Japan. I kept thinking, “next year I’ll visit them”, but something always came up.

Mr. Waka has been so supportive. I’ll fly back for Christmas with the family this year. This first Christmas home since I moved to Japan as a JET. Christmas is an expensive flight, but this year, with all the loss, I feel it’s important to go home.

Hey, it’s pretty amazing that my grandparents both lived so long. They got to meet their great-grandchildren (on my cousin’s side). Their story is pretty amazing.

Both grew up in the Great Depression. My grandma lived through the Dust Bowl and sometimes went days without food. (Starvation was real for people in that time). However, she met my grandpa when she was sixteen. When she told me the story she was blushing like a school girl. Imagine a 75 year old woman still blushing like a girl when she remembered something so long ago. He held out his hand to help her climb up onto the back of the pick up truck and she remembered how strong his grip was. It was love at first sight for her. My grandpa maybe not as much. He went to helping others climb up right away, but my grandma had her sights set on him.

She was a shy, wallfower-type in my ways. However, when she saw my grandpa she was like a tiger. He would be hers. And he was.

Not long after they married he was sent away for World War 2 as a mechanic in the Pacific Theater. She was left alone with her first child, my uncle, in a house in Florida. She was far from her own family and developed severe post-partum depression. She had to go for treatment at an institute. My dad says it took years for her to open up about what was done to her there. Back then they believed in electro-shock therapy and ice-hot baths to treat depression.

My grandfather returned from the war and they moved to their home in Texas where they would raise their three children. They stayed their for the rest of their lives. My grandpa died in that house.

Those years in Texas were peaceful. They had her ups and downs but grandma was her happiest there. My dad said she loved being a housewife because she could do her knitting, painting, gardening, and plethora of hobbies while the kids and husband were away. Grandma loved having her quiet time at home. Since she was naturally shy (like me) and introspective, she liked that life. It suited her. She was never bored.

In fact, when grandpa retired he had no hobbies. He kind of drove grandma up the wall because she became his sole hobby. They traveled around the US by car until they were too old to do so. However, once grandpa no longer went to work grandma was stuck with him at home and no longer had her quiet time. She loved him, but she loved her quiet time.

My dad said that did cause some problems between them. She wished he would go out more, but my grandpa had nothing to do anymore. Finally, she chose to move into an assisted living home. Grandpa refused to follow her, but he did visit often.

My dad said she loved her final years in the assisted living. She would go to the knitting circles, painting groups or chatter with the other women there. It was the first time she had alone time again since grandpa retired.

Hearing their stories it makes me think of the nature of love and long-term relationships. You can love someone a lot, but that doesn’t mean you want them around you at all times. I relate a lot to my grandma. I think I have a personality that’s very like her.

I always felt embarrassed to admit to my friends that I liked the idea of being a housewife. Working long hours for a company sounded stressful. Of course, I work freelance and part time to have my own money and I don’t want to leech off Mr. Waka, but not all of us want the career life.

I was raised in a time where it felt shameful to say, “The corporate ladder is not for me”.

Not all of us want our partners around 24/7. That’s why me and Mr. Waka work well. We spend so much time together, but we also appreciate our alone time. He has his own hobbies and I have mine. I never dreamed of a lover who would follower me everywhere. I guess I dreamed more of a companion than a lover in some ways.

Anyhow, I digress, I guess I see a lot of grandma in myself. I think I have a very similar personality to her. She was bullied as a child for her stutter and called names, yet she overcome that. She learned french to get rid of her stutter. I never stuttered, but I have also found it hard to make female friends in my life. It took a lot of effort for me as well.

I also prefer my time at home doing my own things.

Both my grandparents are gone, but in their children and grandchildren they live on.

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11 thoughts on “No Grandparents Left

  1. What a lovely tribute to your grandparents that was. I can imagine them now! I shudder at the thought of what went on at that institute where your grandmother was sent with postnatal depression- how awful! I’m glad she had a lot of hobbies and got enjoyment out of life after. My partner and I both love our alone time too. There’s nothing wrong with liking the idea of being a housewife by the way, different strokes for different folks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your grandparents’ story. You really have a gift for storytelling. They completely came alive for me. I loved the part about your tiger grandmother with her sights set on your grandfather!

    I’m sorry for your losses this year. I hope your trip home goes well. Sending love. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really sorry about the loss of your grandparents. It’s hard losing a loved one, and even harder when you’re halfway around the world and can’t be there for them. Thank you for sharing their story with us. It sounds like they had very long fulfilling lives together.

    Liked by 1 person

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