Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Sadness

The year, 1989.

The fashions, ugly.

The hair, atrocious.
You can't tell from this picture, but the hair, in addition to the stellar bangs is in a banana clip with a big black lace bow at the top. Luckily, I took off my ugly purple glasses for the picture. That would have been just too much.

It was St.Patrick's Day. I was at a party at Billie Jo Vincent's house. She was an eighth grader, while I was in seventh. I was pretty bummed that none of the eighth grade boys paid any notice to me. The party was over, and I was waiting for my ride. My mom was usually late, so it wasn't that surprising that I was one of the last ones picked up. What was surprising was that it was my oldest brother who came to pick me up. He had torn his ACL, and wasn't supposed to be driving his car, since it was a standard.

Obviously, knowing that he was breaking a rule, I had to question him as soon as I got in the car. I was not prepared for the answer. My mom wasn't there to pick me up because she was at the hospital with Pipere (my grandfather). Pipere had COPD, and had trouble breathing. They took him to the ER, where he was later discharged.

The next day, we had to take my grandmother out to run some errands (neither of my grandparents drove, so my mom had to bring them most places, although they did take the city bus or walk quite a bit). Me, being 13, had no choice but to go with her. We got to my grandparent's place, and there was my Pipere, sitting in his chair, with a glass of milk in his hand, watching basketball. I was "stuck" making small talk with him. I was very uncomfortable doing so, because I knew he had been sick and it scared me. What do you say to a sick person? I had never known someone who had been in the hospital before. So, we talked about basketball. Pipere was watching the Duke/West Virginia game and rooting for Duke. He was a big Duke fan. I decided in that moment to be a Duke fan as well.

That was the last time I saw my grandfather.

He returned to the hospital late the next night and died two days later. And ever since then, I have rooted for Duke in the tournament (side note: my husband hates Duke and cannot understand why I root for them).

Pipere's birthday was the same day as George Washington's, and therefore usually coincided with a holiday. His last birthday, just one month before he died, my aunt in New Jersey felt compelled to come up here and spend Pipere's birthday with him. Thank God she did.

Again, the stellar photography ability...this one has most of my brothers and cousins, but little of me.

I make it into this one, at the expense of EVERYONE else. Sigh.

Because I was so young when he died, I have the fewest memories of Pipere out of all of my grandparents. He never saw me graduate from eighth grade, let alone high school or college. He didn't get to see me married or meet my children. But, over the past few years, as I've become closer and closer with my uncle, his son, I can hear his voice again. Of course, I also heard my grandfather as I listened to my uncle breathe and cough, smoking claiming another life of a loved one.

Just over a month ago, February 17th to be exact, my uncle went to join his father. Most of the last day that I spent with my uncle was spent talking about my grandfather, and looking at old pictures. I know that when Uncle Ed got to heaven, the first person he wanted to see was his father. They have a lot of talking to do. There are a lot of fences to be mended.

But yesterday, (if it is allowed in Heaven), I think there was a lot of swearing going on. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my grandfather's passing. Earlier in the week marked a month since my uncle's passing. Just a bad week, all around. And then, somehow, the #3 seeded Duke LOST. I'm pretty sure Pipere is rolling over.

Or maybe, he's just making up for lost time with his son, and doesn't care.

This is my uncle, but add a glass of milk, and it is exactly how my grandfather was the last time I saw him.

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