I Miss My Grandfather, Which Is Why I Sometimes Balk at Having Kids

9 Aug

Not entirely.  But let me explain.

Like most kids, or several kids, I grew up with 4 grandparents.  2 on each side.  My dad’s parents were sweet people (although, arguably, my grandfather on that side was better at being a grandfather than a dad).  My dad’s mom was rather frail and ill, so we usually were pretty quiet and reserved.  We read, a lot.  Mimi had mostly romance novels, so by the time I was 13 I knew all the ‘romantic’ ways sex could happen…but nothing that was actually true.  My grandfather was mostly in his workshop, where he watched tv and made stuff.  So I didn’t know them very well.  We spend 3 days to a week there every summer (without my dad, who was working).  My mo would pack us up in the car or on a plane and we would fly from Tampa to Houston, get picked up in Houston and drive to Tyler.  A week later, we would board a plane in Houston and either make a hop in Dallas or head straight out to Midland/Odessa where my mom’s dad would pick us up and drive us to Rankin.

My mom’s dad was…legendary.  To me, anyway.  He was a cowboy.  A REAL cowboy.  He didn’t wear cowboy hats for fashion or cowboy boots to be ironic.  He drove cattle and owned a ranch and smoked filterless cigarettes.  He could ride a horse backward, I would imagine, and he called “lunch” the meal you packed in a bag and hung off the horn of your saddle.

He was 80 when I was born.  He was 40 when my mom was born and she was 40 when I was born…you get the drift.  He was OLD when I was able to remember him.  My grandmother had already had a stroke and was living in a facility, so my memories of her are rare and fleeting.  But I remember my grandaddy.  Oh, I do remember him.  I remember his smell, the way he walked, his laugh.  He died at a good age, 93, and I was about to turn 13.  I have lived longer without my grandfather than I have lived with him.

I was at the grocery store, and I saw this grandfather and his 3 grandkids.  I was irrationally jealous.  Part of me is angry that my parents had me so late.  Angry that my sisters and brother remember him (remember ALL of them) better than I ever will.  Angry that my relationship with him was so short and, now, mostly in my head.  Would I trade it for the world?  No.  But he never saw me go to high school, never saw me go to college, never met my fiance.  For me, there is a huge hole in my life where he should be.

So I balk at having kids knowing my own parents are not young.  It is a little irrational, yes, but my heart breaks every time I think of him and I don’t want to do that to them.  As I once told my mom, “You’ll be dead, you won’t miss my kids.  But my kids will miss you, and that hole is huge and sometimes very hard to bear”.

I always tell my parents, when a pet dies, that having had the pet is better than having no pet at all.  I DO believe this, but the days when I grieve, so acutely, for a man whom I last saw 20 years ago, I don’t believe it.  Yes, OF COURSE, I am better for knowing him.  My memories of him are fun and sweet, but…like I said, the pain of his passing (which, let’s be realistic, at 93 is fine)…sometimes the pain of his passing is too much to bear to pass that on to my own.

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