Friday, April 19, 2013

Thoughts on my grandfather

With my Grandad, 1968
My grandfather died this morning. These are words I knew I would say one day, but they take me by surprise anyway. There will be no service, no memorial, no gathering of friends and family, as per his wishes. He will be cremated and I wonder where his ashes will be. My guess is that he requested no urn and no "resting place," a concept I think he would scoff at.

William Rees Polmeer was almost 97 when he died. 97! That's an amazing age for anyone, but for a man, especially impressive. And up until one week ago he still walked the mile or so into town three days a week to do his banking or a little grocery shopping. For the past week he has pretty much been asleep and not in pain, the way I think we would all like to spend our last moments.

Grandad was born in southern Wales, was a World War II veteran, a wood shop teacher, and a strong union supporter. He raised three daughters and saw his six grandchildren reach adulthood and bring his eight great-grandchildren into the world.

I am melancholy, but I also feel like it's okay. He lived a long healthy life and died peacefully. I am sad that I didn't know him better; he lived in Britain and I live in southern California. And now, on the day of his death, my Grandmother, British cousins, my aunts, uncles, mother, and brother are all there. And I am here, 6,000 miles away, in his death as with his life.

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