That time comes. The king is dead. A structural shift in the family, to lose the patriarch, the grandfather. We are small and tenuously linked on that side. There exists tacit agreement of a bond rarely spoken, and a love barely expressed. Ours is a secret brotherhood where acknowledgement of familial ties is made more readily by a glance and a nod than anything else. A flock of black sheep.
The procession to his end of days was made through the plodding steps of someone ready for the quiet between lives. A long rest in the Beyond. Reunited not just with the grandmother and kin, but with Pete, and Butch, and Beauty; Honey, Harley, Maggot, Shadow… A host of most beloved dogs who crossed before him. No longer did he need to answer the question of his well-being with, “I’ll survive, given a bit of luck.” Luck would now bring easy peace instead.
Final days, we prepared, our visits overrun by unavoidable knowledge and half-guilty relief that he would not be forced to linger. And still he cared, mightily. He enquired about my writing again, again. I don’t know how to answer that question normally, not sure what is really being asked, so what can I possibly say when he is sitting at the right hand of Death? Nothing more than a soft, “It’s good.” He was old. Loved. Soon to be missed – whether soon was down to hours or days, it would come too rapidly. And so, simply, “It’s good.” Writing is lively. Bright thoughts, clear-minded, an activity with such forward momentum that the very wondering felt out of place in a hospital room of tubes and wires and roaming medical staff. He would be comforted by my future, but this still felt too much like boasting. He was old. Tired. Gods grant his wish to sleep for a week and into the evermore. We can meet again in time eternal. It’s okay. Be free of this.
Thursday. Early morning phone call. There is only one reason. Ave atque vale, Granddad.