On the morning of Charlotte's birthday party, right after Remy obsconded with the caterpillar cake's head, we got a call from Will's mom saying his grandpa had died. It was a bit of a shock, as much as the news an 87 year old man who has been in and out of the hospital for the last couple years CAN be. But he and grandma had just moved from their home to a retirement facility a month ago. He had been doing relatively well recently when it came to health issues. He had called us on Tuesday, Charlotte's birthday, to sing to her as is the custom in their family. The call had bad reception, but we managed to talk for a bit, telling him what she'd been up to and how we were going to have her party on Saturday. A day that it turned out he would not be alive to see.
He apparently went to a dentist appointment, fell on the way out of the office, and was taken to the hospital as a precaution since he was so old and frail and riddled with the associated health problems. He died in his sleep at the hospital that night.
He never got to meet Charlotte. For that I am very sorry. We made a special trip up to Rochester almost exactly 3 years ago to introduce Emily to the grandparents, but we didn't manage to work out anything like that with Charlotte. Maybe that's why I felt so strongly that we should all go up to the funeral instead of just sending Will up. If we all went then at least Grandma would get a chance to meet Charlotte. I know that not many people ever do get to meet all of their great grandchildren, but he COULD have met Charlotte. I guess that's why I feel so guilty.
I didn't know the man very well...I had spent time with him probably less than 10 times over the past 13 years. By the time I met him he was old enough that he looked nothing like his younger self, and in dealing with his limitations his personality seemed to be defined mostly as "old". I didn't really get a chance to hear about much of his life at the funeral either, as we only made it 5 minutes before I had to take my disruptive girls out to the church's daycare room. But I do know he was sweet and kind, and cared very much about his family. Although Will and I roll our eyes at some of that side of his family's stories and traditions, I know we'll both miss Grandpa's voice singing to our girls over the phone.
The trip itself went ok. It entailed a 6 hour drive up on Friday, and a 6 hour drive back on Sunday, with lots of snow forecasted for each of our travel days. Strangely enough, we didn't get any snow while we were driving, and the drives up and back were probably the most relaxing part of the weekend. I spent more time than I care to remember dragging wailing girls out of various restaurants, houses, churches and Wegmanses, and a total of 4 hours (also more time than I care to remember, but I DO, oh I do) listening to Charlotte scream at me from her hotel crib while I feigned sleep and snapped (in a whisper) at anyone else who dared move or make a noise in the room. It will be quite awhile before we share a hotel room with Charlotte again if I can help it.
All said though, I'm glad we made the trip. I didn't exactly get to say goodbye, but I don't know that I'm the kind of person who needs that type of closure. Hopefully the people to whom that kind of thing matters more and who knew him better did.
We'll miss you Grandpa.