This long Thanksgiving weekend will not be spent as J and I and much of his family had planned. Tomorrow night we'll be heading to Wichita, and Friday morning we'll be heading down to Texas to both mourn the death and celebrate the life of J's grandfather who passed away Tuesday evening.
I only knew this man for a short time, but the little bit I knew was pretty amazing. He'd raised a family of great people with wonderful values who in turn gave him good grandchildren and great grandchildren. He loved alot and was loved in return. He survived cancer twice, and at 80 something years old had a head of hair that most men in their 30s would covet. He was always so nice to me, and I'd watch him with his family and I could always tell how much he loved just being with them. He was a quiet man, but there are things one can see even if they're not being said. I only saw him a handful of times, but I never saw him get angry or upset about anything. I saw someone who was generous, who helped his grandkids even if they didn't admit to needing it. I watched him stay strong when J's mother passed away. More recently, J and I celebrated our marriage with him and the rest of the family, and I felt truly welcomed by him as a member of the family.
I don't know if there's actually a thing as a "good death," but there are natural deaths and there are tragic deaths. Papa Dan went naturally after living a good long life. There are so many good memories of him, memories that I wasn't around for but which I know I'll get to hear told, if not this weekend, then another time when I get together with my in-laws. Like the passing of my own grandfathers, this will leave it's mark on me, for better or worse. That mark might not be as strong as it is with the rest of his family, but it's no less significant.
The holidays can be lonely, but I encourage everyone thinking of their loved ones this season to be grateful for everything they gave you during their lifetime and the lessons they taught even after they left this world to move on to a better one.