Not a eulogy, a letter of hope.
There was no way I could understand why I was having so much trouble writing yesterday until I found out my grandfather is in the hospital from a fall, breaking his hip. Sometimes inspiration is from something nobody wants. Pain…
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” -John Lennon.
Dear Gumpa, Please let this be well wishes and not a eulogy!
I sincerely hope this isn’t the last time I can write to you. You are in the hospital with a broken hip. From a fall. It’s quarantine, so this means you are in the hospital in a room alone. No visitors allowed. No zoom. I believe you are unconscious. I don’t know. My mom, Therese, found out about 40 minutes ago. –A text from Uncle Paul. Something like… “Don fell last night, and broke his hip. He’s in the hospital at Cherry Hill in the emergency room. Pray.”
As I’m sitting here on the back porch, smoking pot like I now do, (It’s okay, it’s not an addiction. I have tight control of my consumption!) I realize just how awful I’ve been to you by rarely visiting you as an adult, period. I’m ashamed of myself for not driving to visit you on a regular basis. My poor excuse is that I haven’t because I’ve been deeply depressed for the last 12 years. I deeply regret not visiting. Your last letter you sent us, broke my heart too.
I’m sad you didn’t respond back to my letter I wrote. I assumed that meant you were done with us. I’m an idiot. I’ll ask you in person. I’m praying for your life. I’m not a religious person. I’m doing all I can from afar to wish you life. I pray this fall is merely a hip injury. That you live so we can fix all this. I don’t want the end to come.
The connection between my phone and the speaker was interrupted for a few seconds just now, cutting off Miles Davis, So what? From playing. I love jazz thanks to you. I hope this wasn’t a grim sign regarding you. Please let it be a technical failure. Please let these tears soaking my face only be to my agony I feel because you are in pain. In pain, but alive. I’m begging because it’s all I can do while the family and I wait. Wait for the unknown future when we find out the results of the fall. “It’s gonna come sometime…” I croak, barely able to speak to the shock to my mom as we take this in on this amazing May afternoon.
Tragedy has always struck on gorgeous days in my life. Please let this be an aberration. I need to thank you. I don’t know if it’s possible in words or any human expression to tell you how much I appreciate you, how much I care for you, and love you. I’ve made so much life progress the past year that I need to show you how much better as a person I’ve become!
I’m working on fixing the mess I’ve made in my relationships. I don’t mind if you think I’m Dad, or if you don’t recognize me. I deeply regret not visiting you. I’m ashamed of myself for this. I’d understand if you were angry. I’ve been isolated for long periods of the past 6 years because of my depression. To be lonely, to feel lonely and alone, is truly an agony beyond comparison. I know how it feels. I’m sorry.
For the rest of my life, I’ll always be reminded of you every time jazz plays. My love of jazz is an eternal gift from you. I cannot imagine a life without you. You are the Rock solid foundation of our family. The gentle Trombone Jazz musician.
I call you “Gumpa” because you were reading a Wizard of Oz book you read to me as a child. There is a character in that book, named “The Gump”, and I guess it reminded me of you. I shortened “grandpa” to “Gumpa” because I love you so much to give you a nickname… And because young me couldn’t say “grandpa”. From then on, that’s what all of us call you.
You and I didn’t talk too much, being mirror images of each other… Classic introverts, barely saying much, but never had to. Because we understand each other without saying a word. We’re both in the moment, quietly observing. Sitting in joy at the rowdy large family thanksgivings and Christmases with everyone there. “Two peas in a pod!” Someone said about us. We both shrugged indifferently, in unison.
I don’t want to stop writing. I feel if I do, that means… the worst. In tribute, I’m still listening to jazz. Maybe it’ll reach you wherever you are, and bring you back in health to us. Hang in there… Please live so we can reconnect. I do want to visit. Quarantine or Covid-19 be damned. I’ll still be safe, be wise, and do all the right things like you taught me.
You are a good man, and deserve far better from me. I am going to fix this when you get out and are feeling healthy again. I’m so sorry for breaking your heart. Because I couldn’t give you a minimum 10 lousy minutes every so often. I am deeply sorry I haven’t been a better grandson. I regret not visiting… Please be well. Please live! Please let this not be a eulogy!
One last thing: I was going to make Gumbo for dinner tomorrow, but I’m doing it tonight, now. Cooking it, and eating it will remind me of you and grandma Julie at the dining room table in your house. It’s in the evening and the sun is shining in. It’s dinnertime, all is right in the world. I don’t want this dream to end.
Your Grandson, Reilly.
Album of the week: Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
If you enjoyed reading this, give it a like, comment, follow and share on Facebook, and subscribe to my email list! Don’t forget to wash your hands, clean your cell phone, and keep your physical distance from others to fight Covid-19! Don’t make my mistake and call or video chat your elder family members. You may never see them by the time Quarantine expires! If you do, be safe because they are the most vulnerable to this virus. That is love. Yes you can stay 6 feet away, and wear a damn mask. Not wearing a mask and not maintaining physical distance around the vulnerable such as the elderly, children, and the sick means you are selfish and don’t give a crap about life or family values. Show me, not tell me who you are and what you value.
Edits: Added Gumbo picture, made it on Saturday. I made a mistake with Gumpa’s age. He is 91 instead of 95. Sorry!