For Granddad

For Granddad

A Story by Kelley T

The revision of an essay that was written on the first anniversary of my maternal grandfather's death.


It is odd how you can become so dependent upon a person's presence without ever coming close to realizing it. Granddad Kelley was around for as long as I can remember, rarely drawing too much attention to himself, though you were always certain that he was there.

He always was a quiet man, but could easily get his point across with a move known in the family simply as "the look." A bit like a rolling stone, only significantly slower, he always moved at his own pace; the rest of the world could do little more than accept whatever he said or did and move on.

It was up until the twenty-first of August, 2003 that I thought he would be stoically sitting in his living room easy chair for the rest of eternity, or at least until I, too, was old and gray.

I awoke late in the day, as per usual for the summer months, to find my mother absent; in her place were my Aunt Linda and two cousins, Madeline and Patrick, the latter being our grandfather's namesake. The trio had convened in the sitting room, while my brother and I lazily slumbered in our respective quarters. It was well past noon and, hearing the voices of individuals outside of my immediate family, I dressed quickly. I may have been a slothful teenager, but that was not a fact I particularly cared to exalt.

Soon after I had joined the rest of the family, Linda pulled me aside and explained the situation: Granddad was dying. I had a split-second decision to make, either be there for his final moments or not. Without thinking I responded, "yes." A few, quick words of affirmation were given before she went off to have the same conversation with Madeline. Apparently, my cousin and I were on the same wavelength; not long afterwards her father arrived and we were off.

The car ride, as I recall, was decidedly somber and quiet. Was there really anything that could be said? We had been informed before the Forth of July that he was expected to expire within three weeks' time. I was one of the very few who refused to accept this prognosis. This man moved at his own pace for the entirety of his life; who was to say that it was going to change?

All joking aside, he did exceed the physician's expectations and remained in relatively good health and spirits for well over a month, before finally beginning to flounder health-wise.

Madeline and I stood outside of the nursing home while her father, my uncle, made certain that we would be allowed to enter. Only a few moments while passed before we were given the green light, but our opportunity to make peace had passed; the priest had already come, blessed him, and left, half of the family was already present, and Granddad was already gone.

What still stands out most from that rueful day is the image of my mother, aunt, and grandmother gathered around the bed, saying their final farewells. The emotions ran so strongly that all three had to excuse themselves, leaving Madeline and I to say our own goodbyes. I fought against succumbing to tears, as the rest of the family had done, but it proved to be too much. Madeline and I stood there, speechless. Even still, I know exactly what ran through both of our heads: it was best that he was gone.

Granddad hadn't been well since his heart attack and the numerous strokes he endured certainly did nothing to help his situation. This was something of which we were all aware; it was best that he was able to finally let go and move on. Even still, it just did not seem right without him.

Though the better part of a decade has passed since his death, things still seem to be a bit odd. I can only imagine what all of our lives would be like, if he were still around. This is part of the beauty within our mortality though; despite the fact that someone may no long exist in a physical sense, so long as we who remain carry them with us, in our memories and in our hearts, they are never truly gone.

This is written in the memory of Thomas Patrick Kelley, III. We still miss you, Granddad.

© 2010 Kelley T

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Added on January 15, 2010
Last Updated on April 23, 2010


Kelley T
Kelley T

Pittsburgh, PA

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