Well, it's been over a month. How are you? I guess I didn't post for awhile because I didn't want to have to say that my grandpa passed away. He died on Friday, March 7th, and I went to North Carolina for the funeral. I really don't want to write anything about it, in part because I don't feel like I'm really able to express how deeply I loved him and what an absolutely amazing man he was. I'll say this, though, he lived so damn long that there was nobody at his funeral. He was 95, outlived all his brothers and sisters, his wife and her brothers and sisters, and all of his friends from church or the community. Everyone who would have been there if he'd died 20 years ago are either under the ground themselves or so damn old they don't leave the house.
Seven years ago, at my grandma's funeral, after we'd had the graveside service and they were going to lower her body into the ground, my Dad stood on the plot next to it, shook the ground like you do when you're testing the stability of a platform and told my brother "We'll bury grandpa here someday!" My Dad was perfectly irreverent and damn wrong.
Having people die is not at all what you expect. It's not as bad as you think it's going to be. I always thought that if someone close to me died, I'd tear my hair out, sit in my own shit, and not be able to get out of bed for months. It's not like that. Grief is so different than depression, and I've been fucking crazy depressed in my life. Grief can make you depressed, but alone it's its own thing. It makes you talk intimately with strangers, especially if you've been drinking. You all of the sudden don't care about stupid shit, like whether or not you look nice when you go to the grocery store. You lose your filter for what is appropriate to say to people and what is not. You forget that just mentioning something that has become commonplace to you, like your Dad's brain being flown to Ohio on Halloween, is not funny to other people. You feel guilty for not tearing your hair out, not sitting in your own shit, and getting out of bed everyday. It's like you wake up and the first thing you think is, "something is horribly wrong" but when you realize what it is, you remember "Oh right, I can deal with this." Grief can be very beautiful. It's intense, but it's real, and it comes from love. Being depressed is not real. Having a terrible breakup is a selfish hurt. Grief is totally selfless. At least in my experience. That said, I really really wish my Dad was still here. It fucking sucks.
My grandpa was old, but it still sucks too. I wouldn't have wanted to keep him here though. Living in a nursing home is just as bad even if they call it "assisted living." Bless his heart. Bless his sweet heart. I miss him.
So I wanted to share something with y'all that I think perfectly embodies my grandpa's character. Ten years ago, my mother finally convinced grandma and grandpa to move down to Atlanta from Asheville, NC. When she was helping them move, she found the equivalent of eight garbage bags full of Publisher's Clearing House contest mail. If you don't already know this, these guys are mother-fucking asshole cocksuckers who prey on poor old seniors who don't read the fine print. He owed them something like $600, but he didn't know it, because he was starting to lose his sharpness. My grandpa, like many men his age from where he's from, really believed in God and America and capitalism. He had an undying faith in the high quality of Dinty Moore Beef Stew. It was "the finest canned soup this side of the Mississippi." He believed what he read in Reader's Digest and saw on the news. And Publisher's Clearing House exploited this to the utmost absurdity. I'm sure these people have horrible sex lives and kill puppies when they're not at work. My mother finally convinced him to abandon his hope of winning the grand prize, but grandpa decided he should write them a letter first. My Mom never sent the letter, and I have it. This is it, written on a piece of paper from a pink legal tablet in his shakey, beautiful, nearly illegible cursive:
April 7, 1998
To: Mr. R. H. Truller:
Please withdraw my name from the competition from Giveaway #555 due to medical problems within and without.
I consider myself unable to comply with P.C.H. rules that if I accept the gift I accept the IHC agreement to help P.C.H. with their advertisement for one year.
I must pay off any credit for which I am responsible. I will contact billing for help.
P.C.H. personel have been wonderful to me of which I am deeply grateful.
It would be a fraud to wait until the last minute to let you know.
I value my self respect and integrity above everything else. (my hands tire easy.)
I am not stoping everything.
Raymond V. Buckner
P.S. Thank You All.
Someday I'll write about all the stories he told me when I lived with him. Until then, if you're interested, my brother has told his own version of grandpa's life on his blog, so if you'd like to read it you can at www.wuapinmon.blogspot.com.