posted by: audra
“your mom called. popoo died in his sleep last night in paris. the white house just called her to get clearance for president obama; he wants to mention him in his speech in normandy tomorrow.”
“what?!” i’m totally caught off guard. “are you fucking kidding me?” i was shaking.
this is the conversation between sam & i the moment i arrived home from work on friday. my grandfather has been quite ill for some time. lymphoma. the past several months, he’s been getting blood transfusions probably more often than i’m at the bar.
he went to europe last week for the 65th anniversary of d-day; he was a world war ii veteran, going back with his old war buddies to visit the battlefields there — normandy, holland & bastogne. he made halfway through his 2-week vacation before dying in his hotel bed in the middle of the night.
the next day, he was to see president obama make a speech before the remaining vets at omaha beach; now the president would be honoring his death at the event:
One such veteran, a man named Jim N– was a member of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne. Last night, after visiting this cemetery for one last time, he passed away in his sleep. Jim was gravely ill when he left his home, and he knew that he might not return. But just as he did sixty-five years ago, he came anyway. May he now rest in peace with the boys he once bled with, and may his family always find solace in the heroism he showed here.
In the end, Jim N– came back to Normandy for the same reason we all come back.
i was shaken up, but i couldn’t get the tears to come. we weren’t close. i was more concerned with my mother’s state; she was very close with him. i’d been dreading this day my entire life.
when i finally got enough strength to call my mom, she was surprisingly calm about it. she had expected this. apparently, my grandfather had prepared travel insurance in case this very thing happened; everything would be taken care of.
i think the last fond memory i have of him, was when i was 10 or 11. he would make me give him a big bear hug before leaving their house, the tighter the better. being a huge baseball fanatic, he bought me a baseball mit & ball and would play catch with him in the field by their house. i hated it. maybe he was just trying to get in some quality time with his only grandchild, but i felt like he was trying to mold me into what he wanted in a granddaughter. as i got older & developed my own sense of self, we grew further apart. we could hardly make it through christmas dinner without butting heads about politics, homosexuality or why i was vegetarian for seven years.
so, it’s offical: i’m grandparent-less. my grandmother, upstaging me as usual, died on my 25th birthday nearly four years ago. and i didn’t think i would, but i miss them both. i will miss grammy & popoo bickering at the dining room table & even when stating how “anyone who marches in a gay-pride parade ought to be shipped down to san francisco!” at thanksgiving.
so now, i’m sitting here, googling his name & the results are staggering. people saying he’s going to be ‘buried in belgium’ and was exhibiting flu-like symptoms complete with speculation of swine flu(?!)…he had fucking cancer, you morons! he’s had “flu-like” symptoms for over a year because of the cancer & medication. i’m not sure if he would quickly come to my defense if he were still alive, but i can’t stand to read this shit & let people draw their own conclusions.
i just hope i’m lucky enough to have such a glamorous death: at an old age, in paris, quietly in my sleep…with press coverage — provided it’s accurate.