This did not exactly come as a shocker to us. He was 94, after all. He’d been in a skilled care facility for the last year. He’d been sick since Christmas. He’d gone to the hospital with pneumonia and then moved into hospice just a couple of days later. The progression was obvious and inevitable.
Death is a funny thing. (Not necessarily funny ha-ha, of course.) On the one hand, life has no respect for death. Life barrels on with a decidedly callous disregard for The End. While my sister and I were talking about Pop-Pop’s passing, she was multi-tasking, trying to get the kids’ homework done in the background, while I was frosting brownies two thousand miles away.
Homework, brownies, LIFE stops for no one.
On the other hand, a death does inevitably bring about an End that we are forced to acknowledge. And not just the end of our loved one, but our own ends, as obvious and inevitable as the fate of frosted brownies.
I read that Orson Scott Card recently suffered a mild stroke but released a statement promising not to leave any series unfinished before he died. (That’s one of those ha-ha funny death moments.)
Pop-Pop had mostly finished his version of his life series before he died. He’d lead a full and good life, with adventures in Africa and South America. He’d met his great-grandchildren. He’d harvested epic tomatoes in his time. Maybe nobody’s book of life is ever truly ready to end, but he found a good place for a chapter break.
Now, inevitably, I’m looking at my own story. Do I have the clear paths like he laid down as a civil engineer? Do I have the sweet scent of gardenias like he grew in his garden? Of course, my story is different, but I do hope I tell it half as well as he told his.
Love you, Pop-Pop.