What do you do when an old man dies, who has been hurting, whose body has been shutting down? There has been no injustice, there is no tragedy, except for the fact that humans pass on. We do not get to be here forever. And so, how much to cry? Is it less about tears, and more about active remembering, acknowledging the space where he once was?
My sweet, stubborn, quiet, fiercely observant and insightful Granddad slipped away last night from this world into the next. When I got the news, I turned off everything in my house that was making sound and sat in my kitchen and tried to remember him as hard as I possibly could, this man who made my Dad so that I could be, who took me to Yosemite, who rigorously researched our family history, and even more rigorously relayed it to me so that I might know where I come from (Pennsylvania, by way of Germany), who made sure I knew that Brunstetter comes from Brun Shtetls, which means Brown Town, because our ancestors were so poor they lived in burnt down villages. This news he delivered with GLEE, as now, the Brunstetters live in HOUSES.
It was not so much a time to cry, because I knew that his last eight months on earth, since his wife died, had not exactly been his favorite. Miserable, in fact. He hated that she was gone, that he was getting old, that his health was rapidly declining, that other people had to make his sandwiches, he was deeply annoyed with it all and was mostly content to just sit in a quiet room with a book and a milkshake, the only thing he felt like consuming. I’m grateful that in his last year, I spent a lot of time finally asking him questions, listening to him, interviewing him for my Heaven Play, where many of his thoughts / fears / preferences are now preserved forever until I rewrite it 900 times. When I last talked to him, Sunday, he said: You should stay living in your Disney Cottage. That way people will always remember you. Ever on point, my dear Granddad. And I will always you.