Apr 20, 2011

3 Lies & A Good bye

My other grandfather always treated me with love and open arms. I was not his biological granddaughter, but you would never have known it; I was his bonnie lass from the moment he met me. Although he had been living in Canada since just after WW2, he would always thicken up his Scottish accent for my benefit. We loved to make each other laugh.

He was from that generation that didn't trust doctors; "They're all quacks!" he would say. I don't even know if he had ever been to a doctor during my lifetime - until he got sick. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but I was told it was slowly progressing and that he still had a few 'good years'. Having been reassured that this was the case, I didn't have any reservations leaving for my exchange program, which was going to be an entire year.

I was lied to; he was dying.

Most of my year was behind me when I got the phone call from my mother. 'Grandpa isn't going to make it until August when you come home. You will have to call and say good bye - this week would be best.'

I was furious. And devastated. How do you call someone that you love on the phone, knowing that they are going to die, and say good bye? That is exactly what I had to do.

I waited 2 days. I needed some time to process it all. I was only 17 - although I don't think it would have been any easier if I had to do it again tomorrow.

My grandmother answered the phone and she passed it to him; there was a long delay. His voice was weak and strained, 'Hello, my lass.'

'Grandpa. Hello. Mom tells me you aren't feeling well - what have you done now?' I tried to lighten the tone.

He laughed-coughed. 'Achh. Ya know how e'goes.' And then he quickly changed the subject, 'How has your trip been? We're all so proud of you.'

I began to cry at that comment. I had done a lot of things that I was less than proud of and I know I didn't deserve his sentiment. 'It's been amazing. I'm having the best time.'

I lied.

'Come now. Dunnie cry. It'll be fine; I will be....... just fine.' I knew he was out-rightly lying but we both knew what the purpose of this phone call was, so he continued, 'You just keep your chin up and make me a happy old man.'

'I'll do my best.' There was silence on both sides; I needed to take a few deep breaths. 'I love you, grandpa.'

'I love you too. I have to go now, love; I'm tired. Cheerio.'

'Good bye, grandpa.'

The line cut out. He died 3 days later.

Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. I cannot imagine having to say my good byes over a phone. My heart aches for you for that moment..

  2. I have tears in my eyes now. I was 5 when my grandpa died in an auto accident. I still remember thatI was with the sitter, at Food Lion, buying strawberries when my parents came to pick me up and tell me. He died 25 years ago, April 8th.

  3. OMG - that is so sad. What a way to find out. I can't even imagine having to muster up the strength to call just two days later. I know you had no choice, but that's a shitty way to have to deal with it, away from your family.

  4. I didn't experience death from a close family member until I was 27. My father in law had a massive heart attack, and died 2 weeks later. It gave us a lot of time to hope for improvement, and then watch him slowly slip away. It was heartbreaking.

    I never had the chance to properly grieve because I was caring for my 2 boys. One was 2, and the other was only 6 weeks old. I let my wife (now ex) spend all the time at the hospital, while I took care of the children. It was her daddy after all.

    What hurt was, after his death, I was pegged as uncaring because I only went to the hospital a few times. During the funeral, I watched the boys, who didn't understand what was going on, and just wanted to play. I took the role of 'background support' and was chastised for it.

    I miss him a lot. I also miss being close to that family. His death sent major shockwaves out, and unfortunately was one of the causes of my eventual divorce and excommunication from that family. It's sad.

    I understand your pain, but I can't say I can relate. My experiences are different than yours.

  5. My first experience with death was at age 8 - and it was horrible. My grandmother passed away - sadly she was the glue that kept my mother's side of the family together and everyone pretty much went their separate ways after she died. I refused to go in and tell her goodbye - or my mother wouldn't let me... I really don't remember which. Fortunately, I don't really regret not having said "goodbye" as she was lying in a hospital bed attached to tubes - that's not the way I wanted to remember her. I remember her as she was her whole life when I look back on it now - all our happy years. Had my little 8 year old head seen my grandmother on her death bed it likely would've traumatized me. So I'm glad I either refused or my mother wouldn't let me go in and see her at the hospital...

  6. I can't even imagine how hard that must have been for you!
    I have dealt with death so much in my life. I've always been told death comes in 3. Here lately it has. Dec I my neighbor who I dearly loved past away. In March my Uncle killed himself. This past Monday my Aunt passed away..I was told via text. <<<That really pissed me off.

  7. My Grandpa died on Christmas day last year. I was only told that he was in hospital but not how serious it was. If I had known I would have phoned (he was in South Africa - we're in NZ) just to make that connection. I hope he knows I was thinking of him and that that is enough.

    It's just another of life's big regrets I guess :'(

    Shit now I'm crying in my morning coffee!


  8. @JustJen, @Lost.in.Idaho, @Belle
    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences; it's never easy, no matter the circumstances.

    VIA TEXT? That's just wrong.

    What is it about holidays? My other grandfather died on Valentine's Day. *sigh*

  9. You made me cry.

    We have sooo much in common, my Lady. I was not the biological grandchild to my Irish Papa but never a bigger Papa's Girl there was. I hadn't a Daddy, so he was it.

    Thanks for reminding me to think of him today.

  10. you're making me teary with this one because my grandpa's teetering on the edge of dying right now.

  11. Oh wow, I'm tearing up! That is such a sad story. I cannot imagine having to say goodbye over the phone.

  12. Very, very sad. Your grandfather was a lucky "mon" to have you for his granddaughter.

  13. I saw you on facebook about getting a makeover and came to see, but as they say there is a reason for everything. Your story of your grandfather has touched my heart, and now I know the reason why I like you so much. Your Grandfather has installed his own goodness in your, and now you share it with others. Your a good lass as he would say. A very bonnie lass, and I'm happy to know you.

  14. This brought tears and memories to mind. I too have had to say goodbye to someone I loved over the phone (my mum). Its not an easy thing to do, saying goodbye over the phone particularly when you believed there would be many more times to see that person you love. In the end it hangs there as a regret, even when you are lied too . Hopefully your parting memory of your grand dad - will eventually be out weighed by much more happier ones that you will cherish and hold onto. There the ones he would want you to hold close to your heart.

  15. I can tell by this post how much you loved him, and how much he loved you. Saying good bye over the phone is awful, but in a way I think he was happy that you were away doing something fabulous. My grandfather died after complications from knee surgery. I tried calling him (we live in a different country than he does) in the hospital after the operation because I heard he wasn't doing well. He wasn't well enough to speak to me so I never got to say good bye.

  16. bloody hell. I lost mine ten years a go this year. he was lush. i can't get over how much i miss him some times. xxxx lovely post. x

  17. How sad but at least you got to talk to him before he passed away.

  18. @My New Normal & @Jessica
    Yes, it's true - at least I got to say good bye. x

  19. Aw, that is sad love. I am glad you got to say goodbye though:)

    I love your new header too, blog looks great!

  20. your sweet tribute to his memory, and your vivid description made me cry. im so sorry for your loss.

  21. Wow...what a tough call to make. You brought me to tears.

  22. You went and made me all teary eyed. I could hear his voice in my ears as if I were speaking to him on the phone. He'd be proud of this girl.

  23. This is so sad. You can't get that time back. I wish it hadn't ended that way.
    I came over from Mama Kat's.

  24. What a heartbreaking goodbye.

  25. Your comment literally made me cry. Its easter weekend and holidays were a big deal for my grandfather. He loved to see us get dressed up and loved to sit at the head of his family table. He has been gone now for almost 7 years, I was 17 when he died and I was working at summer camp that summer.
    I went back to camp even though I KNEW he was dying, I couldn't watch my strong "Poppy" waste away. My mom called me, on a Friday, during lunch, I can literally remember every single detail of those few moments, to tell me I needed to come home, he wasn't going to make it through the weekend, possibly not even through the day. The last thing he said to me, was "you're coming back willy (his personal nickname for me) right? I love you" before I went to change my clothes and shower. I will never stop regretting being too weak to be by his side during those last few weeks. He was unconcious by the time I returned and he died the next morning, with only my Grandmother by his side.
    I guess I got to say goodbye, but your post reminded me of all the moments that I missed, and all the things I didn't get to say.
    I can't even imagine not getting those last few moments though, my heart breaks for you. :( I am so sorry.

  26. What a hard thing to have to deal with. Death is hard enough and grieving so far away from the rest of your family must have been awful.

  27. Look at you going and making everyone cry like this. Shame on you. Seriously though, I feel like I just want to hug that sweet man. I wish you could have said your goodbyes in person...though that wouldn't have been easy either.

  28. Thank you so much for sharing this... I love that you share the most intimate parts of your life with us all.

    By the time I was born, I only had 1 grandparent left. It always made me sad that I didn't have a chance to know my mother's parents. From what I understand, they were the most selfless people, the kind who always opened their home to the "strays". But as I grew up, I felt their presence in our home just by the way my parents followed in their footsteps. We always had people living with us, whether they were relatives or just people who needed some help getting on their feet.

    I would have loved to have had my grandparents in my life but what I learned is that even though they weren't, they still left their mark, and they left a legacy that still continues with our family too.

    This is a sad story, but I think about the fact that you have 17 years worth of loving memories with your grandfather, and that makes me smile...

  29. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I say this as I sit here with tears rolling down my face. I can't imagine having gone through that myself, not over the phone. I would've been a blubbering mess.

    On a lighter note, I'm not sure how I found your site, but this is the second comment I have posted tonight, I am addicted to your blogs!!


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