beloved

In ALL, FAMILY MATTERS, SNIPS & SNAILS by Stephanie Klein49 Comments

I don’t choose these things.  They just happen.  I didn’t mean to choose Natalie Merchant’s “Beloved Wife” as the song I’ll always associate with you.  It just happened.  Perhaps it’s not the most manly-man song out there, but it’s a testament to the way you loved her.  Without terms, seemingly boundless, and timeless. Like a gentleman, a class act, the kind you don’t see much anymore.  A real mensch.  You kept a Polariod photo of her on your desk. I’d look at it and think, this really isn’t a good picture of her.  I remembered her prettier and had seen much warmer pictures, where her smile was softer.  You looked at her photo with a love so boundless, so powerful, it almost seemed casual.  You lived and loved her every day. 

birds in flight
On the day she died, at her grave, you shoveled dirt and covered her coffin and told her you’d be with her soon.  “My love.  My Bea.”  And you missed her every single morning, all your afternoons, and in the dark of night. For many years.  You left a legacy far more valuable than money.  You set an example on how to love your mate.  “Never expect perfection, and always forgive,” you told me the last time I saw you.  I asked you if you had regrets.  “Regrets?” you repeated, leaning nearer to make sure you’d heard it right.  “No.  I have no regrets.  I just don’t see why the good Lord is keeping me here.” And I understood.  “I tell ya, I’m bored out of my mind, Steph.”  Oh, Grandpa, I miss you.  I really do.

I’ve heard that everyone attends their own funeral.  Not just their body, but that you are there to watch the procession, to see the people of your life, to hear the eulogy.  You passed away in your sleep yesterday in your own home, in the same building you’d built a life in, raising two sons, and Beverly.  Sometimes I’d sleep there, in that room where you’d mounted a swordfish.  You’d read to me from books where you’d had them insert my name, so Stephanie Tara was the main character tobogganing down mountains.  And later in life, when I found out what Josh had done, you told me it would be okay.  That these things work out.  That the good Lord would protect me.  Then you said, “you know I’ve always got a spare room.  You’re always welcome here, dear.”   Today was your funeral.  It had been scheduled for Thursday but because of the Jewish holidays, it was moved to today.  I couldn’t be there.  My body couldn’t be there.  We lit a candle here and I said a prayer.  Phil said he’d miss you.  It was funny to hear him call you Sam.  I don’t know why.  I guess ’cause you’re Grandpa, not Sam. 

When we spoke, even toward the very end, you’d ask after Phil and the kids.  “Abby’s my favorite,” you said. “A mother should have a little girl.  Now tell me, how’s my Abby?”  I’m so glad you got to meet them and hold them and love that they were mine, and part of you.  I’m going to make Poppa send Abigail flowers on Valentine’s Day the way you sent them to me.  “I’ll always be your Valentine, sweetheart,” you’d tell me when I called to thank you.  You made me feel less alone.  And I always knew how proud you were of me.  “You never asked for help.  You did it all on your own, without pulling strings or calling in favors.  And I’m proud of ya’, and your father–well, I couldn’t ask for a better son.  He really is the best.”  I know, I said.  And of course I do.  He’s still my best friend.  And you helped raise him, showed him what it was to take care of a family. To provide for a family. 

I know you were ready.  It is sad though to lose.  And for me, sad to lose someone who always championed my efforts, offered support and encouragement.  Who told me every step of the way how proud he was of me, even in my least proud moments.  You always offered such profound advice to me and reminded me to take a step outside myself and whatever drama I might be facing.  Because you’d been through so much, seen so much, joy and sorrow… you reminded me of my blessings, to express gratitude along the way, and to try not to be too rigid when thinking of “should”s.  To have faith.  It’s warming to think of you and how much you loved me.  Love me.  I’ll now bring you to mind, as I always bring Grandma around.  When Lucas grabs at the rock, I smile and think of her.  Tomorrow, when he gets an image-guided LP, I hope you’ll watch over him.  I told him today, that secretly he was also named after you.  Beckett.  It starts with a B because of Grandma, but Samuel Beckett was also a writer.  See, huh?  I can be tricky, too. 

The last time we spoke you said, “I’m ready to be with your grandmother.  I miss her so much.”  So I hope you’re with her now and can somehow hear me play for you this song, your song, about the way you loved.  Thank you for my life, my education, for sending Vernell, and for all the life lessons you shared.  For setting a beautiful example of a beautiful life.

So I don’t need to go digging when I want to remember more of you:
Cats & Cradles
I am
Handmaidens

Comments

  1. stephanie…i'm very sorry for your loss. what a beautiful post though. i'm praying for you and your family. much love!

  2. thank you for your beautiful writing. i just read this post and burst into tears. my own grandfather died just a few months ago and left me a lot of the same legacies that yours left you, and i miss him all the time. thank you for making me smile while remembering my own grandpa.

  3. Weepy before bed…
    I pity all the men that come across my path. They have big shoes to fill…those of my grandpas'. I too am so lucky.

  4. I always thought that people who mourned others' deaths, asking God why he had to take them away, why they had to go, was so selfish. I always thought, "What if they were ready to go, and just didn't want to let anyone down?" I always tried to respect them, and I think you have done a beautiful job of respecting your grandfather. And I'm sorry for your loss, no matter what.

  5. Stephanie~

    Thank you for posting your moving tribute to your Grandpa. It made me reminisce about my grandparents, all strong influences in my life too. My grandmothers are both in their mid-90's and it has been hard watching them slow down from their once active lives. I miss the way they used to be. Your sister and cousins are key links to keeping the memories of your grandparents fresh and alive. Your Grandpa would be/is proud of your post and of you. But you know that and that is the most important gift of all. Wishing you peace….

  6. So sorry for your loss. My grandpa is going downhill fast, and we're across the country from each other and that kills me. Must go call him tomorrow morning.

  7. That was beautiful, Stephanie. It made me cry as I remembered my own beloved grandfather Pops. Wishing you and your family peace during this difficult time. Best wishes to you, Phil, and your beautiful babies. Thanks for this post.
    -Beth

  8. I'm very sorry for your loss, Stephanie. And I hope your grandpa could see the service you and Phil held to remember him in Austin.

  9. Steph,
    What a beautiful euology you've written for your beloved grampa. May the mark he left on you heart be deeper than his passing, I send prayers to you and baby Lucas today.

  10. Stephanie-
    I'm so very sorry. I don't know what else to say. I was in tears the entire time I read this. I never had a real father figure in my life but my grandfather is always there for me, and although he drives me a bit nuts with his endlesses questions he's the best man in my life. I can tell your bond with your granddad was amazingly strong, and I know he's with with your grandma now and they are smiling down and you and your entire family.

    -Tara

  11. Breathtakingly beautiful Stephanie.

    My heart is with you as you navigate through this tough time. Losing someone you love is never easy obviously, but its even more bittersweet when you know they were ready to go, and that what is waiting for him will bring that smile that you know so well. My grandfather was the exact same way, sleeping with pictures of both my grandmother and my father in his hand because he knew it was almost time for him to be with them again. My father died when I was only 3, and I know both of my grandparents were never quite the same after that. While my grandfather's sense of content and being ready for the next part in his journey brought me great solace, it also made me cry even more because it restored my faith and made me really think about what I believe happens after we leave here. The emotions I felt and still feel when I think about those last days make me well up even as I write this, and that was 9 years ago. I think it was a sense of longing as well, I wanted to be able to see my dad, meet him, get to know him, but I was happy that my grandfather would be able to explain all of the unknowns to him.

    I am sooo thankful that your lovely grandfather got to meet his grandchildren. That is a memory you will always have and it will grow more precious each passing day. I love the Valentine comment, makes my heart just leap in my chest. Family is just so damn beautiful. I am sorry you didn't make it there in person, but like you said, it was solely your body that was not present, as you already know, your grandfather felt your presence. This post spoke volumes Ms. Klein. While it was written for your grandfather it gives us, your loyal readers yet another glimpse inside the beautiful heart of Stephanie Klein. You are a courageous woman who is strong, sensitive and so talented. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us. I am happy you had that special bond with your grandfather, a bond that will outlast all strands of time. This post just makes me so unbelievably fulfilled in my feelings of faith and love and family. I pray that sooner rather than later you feel the same. Bless you and your entire family Stephanie.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful and generous man. This is a beautiful eulogy.

  13. My deepest sympathy on the loss of your beloved grandfather. It's such a blessing that he had the opportunity to meet Abigail & Lucas.

  14. I'm very sorry for your loss. It sounds like your grandfather had a rich, full life, to which you and your babies added tremendously.

    I hope "My body couldn't be there" doesn't mean you are not well?

  15. Thank you for reminding me what matters,i'm sorry about your Grandpa i lost mine in 87 i miss him everyday.I dont know if you realize this but the story of Abigail is from the book of Samuel.

  16. I lost my grandmother and grandfather earlier this year. It's still raw, months later. They were married 64 years and one was lost without another. You've chosen a beautiful way to celebrate his life and his love.

  17. I am so sorry for your loss, but how beautiful that your grandfather was eagerly anticipating his reunion with his sweetheart of all those years… I lost my paternal grandmother last year (the first of my grandparents to pass away), and the hardest part about it was watching how much my grandfather has missed her over the past year.

    You are in my thoughts. What an amazing gift that he got to know his great-grandchildren and that they got to meet him!

  18. The love you felt for your grandparents jumped out at me, Stephanie, and as I read your message the tears streamed down my face…..for your grief, for the years your grandparents were without each other, for the loss of my own parents and grandparents. It makes no difference whether we lose them in their relative youth or in old age. We're still children at heart and they're ageless to us, a loving presence in our lives. Please be comforted always by your grandfather Sam's memory and know that he was as filled with love for you as you are for him.

  19. I am sorry for your loss. This post reminds me of my grandfather "pop". I still have one grandfather left, but he too is fading fast. He can't even remember names of loved ones. This was a tear jerker for sure. Bless you!

  20. Not fair. You made me cry at work.

    I'm sorry for your loss, but so glad for you that you had such a long time with such a wonderful grandfather.

    That song makes me cry every time I play it. I pray to gods I don't really believe in that my husband and I will stay that way through our lives. Its been 22 years, and so far, so good.

    I'm praying to those same gods that all is well with Lucas (Beckett)

  21. My condolences for yours and your family's loss. Your grandfather sounds like a very wise, warm and loving man.

    Heart warming and breaking tribute, Stephanie. Gentleman like your grandfather are few and far in between. In your memories and heart he continues to live on. I believe he is with his beloved wife; your grandmother, happy and content. And of course watching over all of his family.

    God Bless you and your family, as you grieve for your loss.

    Sincerely,

    3T

  22. This is so beautiful and so touching. I'm so sorry for your loss Stephanie. You're Grandfather sounds like he had an amazing life. May he rest in peace.

  23. Moved me to tears… I miss my father so much. Was crying in the car this morning (listening to Celtic music that reminds me of him). I was also thinking that my heart will break into a million pieces when the day comes that Mom goes to join him. You honored your grandfather with this post in more ways than you will ever know. You reminded us to call, visit, talk with and appreciate those who won't be here much longer. Thank you.

  24. its hard to lose grandpas, especially when they fulfill so much more than just that grandparent role. i'm sorry you are having to experience this now, but also share in the slight relief you may feel in that is finally able to be with your grandmother again. just think about how happy he must be to hold her in his arms again!!!

    thank you for sharing about your close relationship with him. it allows me a moment to pause and celebrate my grandfather.

    he'll always be with you and a part of your family's life b/c he'll never leave your heart.

    sending consoling hugs.

  25. Stephanie,
    Oh, what wonderful memories you have… for you to remember and to tell your lovely children who will tell their children and so on and so on and so on….. I am so sorry that he is not physically here in your life anymore but he lives in your heart and your memories… oh, the joy every time a lovely memory replays in your mind! What a fantastic gift he gave to you while he was here and now that he is gone. May he rest in peace with his beloved.

  26. What a beautiful eulogy, and what a blessing that he was able to meet his great-grandkids before he was able to be with your Grandma again.

  27. Stephanie,

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    I lost my own grandfathers in 1995 and 1997.. I never knew my father's father, but my mother's father was taken from our lives much too soon. I feel as though I never got to know him (I was only 13 when he died) and will always wonder how many great conversations we could have had once I "grew up."

    Wishing you and your family peace during this difficult time in your lives.

  28. Once again I think about how lucky the Beans are that you are their mom. You'll be able to not only tell them about their great grandfather, but you'll be able to convey the love and the emotion behind every story.

    I'm sorry for your loss.

  29. I'm crying at my desk!

    I'm so sorry for your loss – but you are so blessed to have been touched by a soul like your grandfather's.

    I can relate – mine is very special to me, too.

  30. I can't tell you how much this post meant to me today. Thankfully, both of my Grandparents are still around to love me and love each other, but I wonder about the time when it becomes their time. I wonder how they will handle it, and I wonder how I will handle it. My Grandparents practically raised me and have always been huge parts of my life.

    Before I was married, my now husband (then boyfriend) and I went to visit my Grandparents for my Grandfathers 70th birthday. Everyone in our family wrote a letter to my Grandfather expressing one of their favorite memories of him. Without my knowledge my husband snuck a letter in of his own. We read them aloud later in the evening and my husband's said, "I hope that one day Nicole (that's me) can look at me with the hope, love and awe that she looks at you with." It was then and there that we all knew that he was the one for me!

    Thank you Stephanie for the post! I wish you hugs for the pain, but joy in the memories!

  31. I am so sorry. You were lucky enough to have this man in your life, and I know you will keep his memory alive for your little ones. I am glad he was at home, peacefully went in his sleep. And he IS watching over all of you now.

  32. Im really sorry, Stephanie. It sounds like he was a wonderful grandfather and will be greatly missed, as well as embraced in his next life. I love that he sent you flowers on Valentine's when you were young. That is one of the sweetest things Ive heard of a grandfather doing for his grandies.

  33. I'm so sorry, Stephanie. I'm really glad Lucas and Abigail got to meet their great-grandpa.

    Have you heard the song "My Daughter's Eyes?" It's beautiful. At the end of the song, Martina McBride sings:

    "When I'm gone I hope you see
    How happy she made me
    For I'll be there
    In my daughter's eyes"

    All of the beautiful things your grandpa taught and gave you are still there with you, and you're passing them on to Lucas and Abigail, even when you're not aware of it. He's there with them, in them, too.

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