After several false alarms, my grandfather finally passed away last night. He was 94. It's funny, he always said he was going to die at 94. His older brother and sister both died at 94, then his twin brother died 1/1/11, also at 94. Not to be outdone, he followed 10 days later, on 1/11/11. Not counting his younger brother, who died in WWII, they died in birth order, even.
He had a nice day yesterday. Coffee and cake with a longtime friend, then dinner, then the nurse checked on him around 11. When she checked back around midnight, he was gone. I'm so glad it was a peaceful passing, which is the way he wanted to go. But really, isn't that how most people want to die? He led a long life and did so much during his time on Earth and was even living by himself until about a year and a half ago, when he moved into a nursing home.
Of course I'm very sad about it, but I know it's for the best and that it was his time to go. I'm glad my mom was here when it happened, that's making it a little easier for me. She's heading back home today and will then fly to Germany this weekend to be there for the memorial Tuesday. He doesn't want anyone to have to worry about upkeep on a grave, so he'll be cremated and the ashes will be buried anonymously.
I got to talk to him on Christmas and it was nice and pleasant. He was in a good mood, and at peace. It's a nice last memory to have.
I'm so glad that Alex got to know him, and really wish Carter could have met him too. But I'll look back on all the time we got to spend together and smile :)
There's a great quote from Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut that I just love....It's a really interesting book that makes you think about life and death in a whole other way.
“The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamdorians say about dead people, which is ‘So it goes.’”
And a few pictures!
As a lieutentant in Russia during WWII, circa 1945
With me, my sister, and my parents...I was probably 8 or 9 here!
On vacation in Berlin, 2001, with me and my sister
The last family picture, August 2009