Recently, while visiting my parents, my mom was watching Dancing with the Stars and they had a piece about Olympian Lauren Hernandez and her grandmother. They had showed her visiting her at a home and how she hadn’t had the time to visit her recently. Then, the next screen flashed that soon after her grandmother (who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s) passed away.
That made me burst into tears.
I guess that’s because I’ve been feeling guilty about my own grandfather’s death about almost two months ago. See, last Easter, my father and my uncle had a huge blowout, so huge my dad was basically banned from going over his house. My family has always been close and for as long as I can remember every Sunday we went over to my grandparents’ house. Within the last couple of years, as my grandparents’ got older, my aunt and uncle started having people come over their house instead. Everything was dandy, dominoes and food, until a fight over how dominos were being played turned into something more. When my aunt banned my father, I stuck by his side, claiming if my father wasn’t allowed, neither was I. And that meant I never saw my grandparents, I don’t think I saw them a handful of times during that period. I even tried to get people to realize how immature they were acting but that didn’t amount to anything.
The came a call from my mom in August that my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
My grandfather was old and had bad knees but never was exactly poor in health. He spoke fluent English, loud and opinionated, and made the best fried rice. To hear he had something that would slowly take away his memories stunned me.
I still didn’t go see him though.
I still didn’t go see him until a little after he had his first stroke, while he was as the rehab facility. They put him on meds, not exactly sure what they were for, but I’m sure this is what led him to the first stroke. He was hospitalized and in icu, and thing is, I didn’t want to see him like that. The last time I saw him was when he was at home, and my mom had to push me, ask me every time we talked to see him. And he wasn’t himself. It was hard for him to walk and his memory wasn’t the same. Honestly, my last memory of him alive is him falling asleep at the table after eating dinner.
His health never improved. He had a couple more strokes, then in early October, my mom called me, telling me if I wanted to say my last goodbye to my grandfather, I ought to come by soon. But truth is, I couldn’t see him like that. I couldn’t push myself to see him be nothing like he was.
Now at this point, the sudden death of Jose Fernandez had also affected me deeply. Like my grandfather, he had left Cuba to find freedom, but he was 50 years younger and not even close to the prime of his life, and he let stupid choices end it. Still didn’t make it any less sad. I never have cried tears for the death of celebrity, much less an athlete, but I cried many times.
Then on 10/8 my mom called to tell me that my grandfather passed away. I spent that day watching tv between tears. I didn’t leave to go anywhere. I didn’t see my family until the next day, where i stepped foot inside my aunt and uncle’s house for the first time in nearly 7 months. I hugged my grandmother for what seemed like forever. We went through the whole funeral process and we said our final goodbyes as his casket into the ground.
And yet I feel tremendous guilt. Most days I’m distracted and don’t think about it, but when I do, it devastates me. I let my pride and my inability to realize that I don’t always have to be right take my the time I could have seen my grandfather, talk to him, spend valuable time with him.
Now everything is a memory that is swirled together with guilt. Probably will be a while before that’s not the case.