My grandfather’s health had been declining steadily since the Winter Solstice. He came down with a form of skin cancer and the treatments they utilized didn’t heal him. He had started to decline mentally as well, and we heard from his hospice worker that it wouldn’t be much longer. Honestly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did given his condition. Papa was always a very strong and stubborn man. He didn’t like to ask for help and he didn’t like to stop working. I imagine letting go was difficult for him for awhile. But his quality of life just wasn’t there anymore. He hardly had his wits about him, or so the rest of my family says. The last time I saw him was during their annual Christmas Eve get-together. He was in a lot of pain because he hadn’t taken his medication yet, but couldn’t until it was time for bed and the guests had left. It meant for a very rushed visit, and he could hardly hear us. I gave him a kiss on the head and told him I love him. Because he developed a bad infection, I was warned not to visit since for fear it would complicate my pregnancy. It was prudent and practical, and I hope he understood/understands that…
Last night, I talked to my parents on the phone and it sounded like his condition was worse. I prayed to Brighid before bed and asked that she would comfort him and help him rest. His last battled had been drawn out so long, so painfully… During sleep, I saw him in my dreams. He didn’t look well. His neck was all raw, his face puffy, and his right eye red – but he smiled.
I got off the phone with my mother a little while ago and she told me he passed away around 3.
I knew it was coming, prayed for it for his sake, and know it is part of life. He had lived a very long and, overall, very healthy and active life. I cried all the same. When it comes down to it, despite my very practical side, I’m quite sensitive. From a very early age, when he “hired” me to help mop his shop floor, rake leaves, or paint his fence, he taught me the value of hard work and a job well-done. He always said he would die when he stopped working – stopped doing the things he loved. That always struck me as a very positive attitude. Not that rest isn’t valuable, but he never saw aging as an excuse to be lazy or to let others do a job for him. He mowed his lawn, plowed his driveway, and fixed things around the house until he was no longer physically capable. And his mind was almost always occupied with something – local history, learning how to use computers, writing books, and genealogy.
That last interest would also turn out to be a huge influence on me. He taught me about some of my ancestors and showed me how valuable it was to learn about them. Truly, some of my spirituality comes from that respect he had. I know more about where I came from because of him. He taught me to love and honor my ancestors, and now he is one. I pray that he meets the ancestors he read and wrote about in the Otherworld, and that he learns all the mysteries he searched so tirelessly for in life.
Hail to you, Papa! Hail to the Ancestors!