About this time last year, I lost my paternal grandfather, Marshall Hartman. Kate and I had just come back from Ireland, and he passed the next morning. 7 weeks later, to the day, my grandmother passed away.
I was fortunate to be born with four grandparents and three great-grandparents. While I didn’t see them as much as some others, due to growing up in Australia, but their influence on my life was fairly strong. My teenage years involved lots of time with family; 23 cousins and 8 sets of aunts and uncles.
I didn’t lose any grandparents until 2003 and 2006, and had two grand grandparents until junior high.
I realized last summer I had no more grandparents. It hit me a little when Thanksgiving came.
Dynamics change when your grandparents die. The generation and their descendants are gone, and everyone moves up a step. Grandparents are gone. My parents are the grandparents for my kids, and aunts and uncles lose the direct family connection that brought us together. We still get together, but it’s not the same, and won’t ever be. I have become the person in the role my parents had in my mind while growing up. My kids are me. It’s just part of the cycle.
I loved all my grandparents differently and have fond memories of them all. I probably felt more affinity to my Hartman grandparents, due to surname identity and my dad’s frequent stories about them. Marshall Hartman was well-respected, as was Luther, his father (and my namesake); I inherited some of that respect by virtue of his life.
It hasn’t been a drastic change, not a difficult one, but more one of perception. A clear realization of the cycle of life that has moved to another stage. A loss of ties, history, care, and, to an extent, identity.
We got together with much of my mom’s family today for a baby shower. The mood was good, time was enjoyed, and I love them. But it wasn’t the same without the grandparents. Our initial common link is gone.
Granddad yesterday, I drank a chocolate malt from Braum’s [your favorite] in your memory. I would have poured a sip on the concrete, but I know how thrifty you are; didn’t want to waste any :-)