Friday, September 02, 2005

Life

I've been busier than a bee in a field of flowers. That's my excuse for not posting. At least the OT is good. 50 hours last week, and that was with taking Monday to go to my Great Aunts funeral. I'll be working over the weekend as well. I've fallen behind at work with vacation and a week off for my Grandfathers passing. Putting out fires and taking care of urgent matters have put me even more behind in my regular work.

There are big changes afoot as well. My boss is moving to England next week. I will become the contact person for our office and responsible for wrapping up the end of our NSF (National Science Foundation) funding. All of our Directors accounts are being moved to me, as well as our Co-Directors. I will be losing approximately 10 accounts and taking on 20-30 more. It's a great opportunity for me to step up to the plate, learn new things, grow, and hopefully shine. I just hope I don't fall flat on my face. I'll just try and go with the flow and do the best I can. Luckily, I have a great support system and knowledgeable people I can turn to.

I've been visiting my Grandmother after work almost every day. After 63 years of marriage, I cannot even fathom what she is going through. On more than one occasion, she had said: "I can't believe he's gone". I sit and talk with her about her day. I cry with her. I listen. I encourage. I let her know how much I love her. I let her know she is not alone. All I can do is be there for her.

She told me how she was napping in her rocker/recliner and was woken up by someone grabbing her toes. She is extremely ticklish in her feet and hates having her toes touched. I know this for a fact.

I was about 12 years old when I was sitting on the floor at her feet and I started tickling her. She grabbed a hold of my ponytails (hey, it was 1975!), and started pulling and shouting. The more I tickled, the harder she pulled and the louder she shouted. I was laughing so hard I couldn't stop. It was an AFV moment for sure.

Anyway, my parents were both working and there was no one else in the house. I told her it was Papa teasing her by grabbing at her toes. She agreed. It was something so very typical of my Grandfather. She went on to say that she can't believe that he is laying there in the cemetery. At that point, we both had tears running down our faces. I told her: "He isn't there, he's here. He's young again and at peace. He's watching over you, making sure you're OK, letting you know he's OK".

A day or two later she told me how she had shut off the bedroom light and went to the kitchen. She then noticed the bedroom light was on again. It may or may not be true but, I have a feeling that, my Grandfather is going to be blamed for similar occurrences in the future. She still comes out with many humorous quips and has that sparkle in her eye. She is coping as best she can, that is all anyone can ask.


Once home from work, I've been doing the regular stuff (laundry, cleaning, cooking dinner & cleaning up), then getting on the PC to scan and edit pictures for the tribute DVD I am working on. Do you have any idea how time consuming that is? It's a long process to scan, edit and figure out dates for photographs, some dating back to the 20's and 30's. It's especially tough with the older albums that I have to scan. The pictures are pasted to the albums and it takes several scans to get one page completed. I'm up to about 400 pictures now, with many more to go. In my spare time (right! My lunch breaks at work), I have compiled about 17 songs for the background music. I only hope I can actually do what I've envisioned. I've never created a photo DVD before. I pray the software I have is compatible and user friendly enough for me to make it all come together.

It has been a labor of love, perhaps even a coping mechanism for my grief. Looking at captured moments in time, from the 87 years of my Grandfathers life, I have learned more about him in the last 3 weeks than I had in the 41 years of mine.

I never felt like my Grandfather was an affectionate man. I felt there was a wall between us, or that he kept a certain distance. Perhaps it was because of his upbringing. I have been told that his mother was a very tough woman. You'd have to be, to raise 7 children during the Depression era. Maybe it was losing two brothers in World War II. Maybe it was just the way he was.

He never failed to help out a family member in need. I lived with my Grandparents for a few years during my most rebellious period, much to parents disapproval. He bailed me, and other family out financially, on more than one occasion. He would help out anyone that asked, yet never asked for help himself. Paradoxically, he was both generous and miserly. He donated to his church weekly, yet bought the cheapest cut of steak, when he could afford sirloin. He would give you the shirt off his back to help you, while simultaneously voicing judgment. He would criticize often and praise rarely. He was intelligent, honest and hard working. He was stubborn and opinionated. He had a strong religious faith and was passionate in his beliefs. He was a voracious reader and had a thirst for knowledge. He felt a sense of duty and community. He was always active and involved in various organizations. I don't think I ever heard him grumble about his life, not once, no matter how bad things were. Even when he was enduring radiation treatments and dying from cancer - he never complained. He was a complex man, he was a good man.

I have discovered: although he rarely expressed his love, affection or pride in his offspring's accomplishments - it was there. It's there in the photographs and items he squirreled away over the years. The newspaper cuttings, report cards, photo albums and documents have shown me a side of my Grandfather I never knew existed. It is more than the residual packrat compulsion of growing up without, during the Depression. He saved what was important to him. His interest in photography was more than a hobby, it was his way of capturing the moments that mattered to him. He recorded every birth, graduation, marriage, holiday, birthday, anniversary or event of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in volumes of albums.

What he seemingly couldn't express to those he loved in life, he has shown in the pieces he cherished and saved. Pride, protectiveness and love ran deeply within my Grandfather.

I miss his presence. A presence I didn't truly appreciate while I had the chance.

5 comments:

izchan said...

Dear Sharfa,

These are the people in our lives that we never see but is always there. Some more than others.

Most people (usually male) do not express themselves well, because they don't want to loose whatever that they have at hand. They are afraid that a wrong word, a misinterprated gesture will pusht the one thing they care the most away from them.

so they shut up.
they shut out.
in order to keep their dreams alive.

you should feel lucky that you get to see the other side of the grandad, because now you know. For some, their love will never see the light of day, forever hidden behind old shoe boxes.

thank you for making me cry.

from
ike

Sharfa said...

izchan- You're right and I feel blessed that I have this chance to know him better. My hope is to do justice to his life with this tribute DVD.

thank you for making me smile.

sharfa

Revan said...

It is so true that the ones who pass are still there... I feel my mom around me all the time... she is watching over my family... sometimes I hear my son talking to someone and he tells me he is talking to his grandma... Kinda took me for a loop at first but in some ways I do beleive the boy...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your grandpa...

Sharfa said...

Thanks Revan, I've been a lurker on your blog for some time now.

I'd like to hear more of what your son has to say about talking to his Grandma. Young minds are open to receive input that we close our minds to as we get older. That's why it's easier for children and animals to see spirits.

KFarmer said...

Congrats on the job! The cream always rises to the top I say : )

It sounds like you and your Grandmother are really bonding and enjoying your time together. That is wonderful. I am sure your Grandfather notices this as well.

I never really knew my grandfathers as one died when I was 3 months old and the other when I was 5. I think its nice that you knew him at all and it sounds like you loved him very much. Some people are just hard to get close to for various reasons but that does not mean they dont love you- promise. : )