I am sitting here, trying to find the words. Tears welling up, the baby in my belly has the hiccups again. He is blissfully unaware and squirming around. My grandpa died on Saturday. I don’t really want that in type, something about seeing it on the screen makes it more real. More painful. I was very close to my grandpa. I was always “his Jenny”. He was mine too. When I was little, I was lucky enough to live close to my grandparents. I followed him around like a puppy. Didn’t matter what he was doing. But what is more, was that he would include me in everything. Taking out the trash, taking me to load seed corn at his job. He always got up early to get breakfast. Whenever my sister and I stayed over, I got up too. My sister was never interested. We would go to the restaurant and have breakfast. He knew everyone. It was a small town and he was a seed corn salesman, so talking to people came easy to him. He was always so proud to show me off to his friends and anyone really. I was always in awe of how many people he knew and how much they all seemed to like him.
Growing up in rural Nebraska, my school, of course, had an annual fishing trip. My grandpa always came with me. I was always so proud he was my grandpa. He would help the other kids with baiting their hooks and fixing their rods. I would just stand back and watch, grateful that he was my grandpa. I would burst with pride when a classmate would tell me how cool my grandpa was.
A few years ago, my grandma had a stroke. They lived 600 mile away. It was decided that they should move west to be closer to us. My aunt lives in a suburb of the city my sister and I live in and my mom was only a four hour drive away. My grandma recovered almost completely but it was the right decision. They have both been in and out of the hospital for various reason. My grandma is 88 and my grandpa was 94.
He went into the hospital for the last time in the middle of July. He had pneumonia. My husband and I went to see, like we always did. He was always a bit of a fatalist and would always say he didn’t think he was going to make it but he always did. Like always, as soon as I got there he took my hand and with pride in his voice, told the nurse I was his granddaughter. He would tell this to whatever staff came into the room until they acknowledged he had said it. He told me he didn’t think he was going to make it. Maybe he knew he was right this time and wasn’t coming home. He told me how much he loved me and how I was his Jenny. I told him how much I loved him and that he had to get better because there was a baby he needed to meet. I sat with him for a few hours and we talked about all the stuff we had done together. All the fishing trips and going to breakfast.
He rallied after a course of anitbiotics and I thought he’d be on his way home. There was talk about rehab and moving him to a hospital that was closer to where he lived. Then, last Friday, he stopped eating and drinking. We planned to go see him Saturday afternoon. Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:30am. I was starving. As I ate my bowl of cereal, all I could think of was my grandpa. It kept me up another hour. I finally fell back asleep. When I got up at 8:30, I was sure there was going to be a missed call from someone telling me he was gone. I was relieved there were no messages. When my husband got up, we took the dog and walked to a local coffee shop. We got home a little after 10 and my husband was getting ready to go on a four hour bike ride. He had just left when my aunt called and told me my grandpa had died at 10:30. I called my husband and he came home.
My grandpa wasn’t my biological grandpa. My grandma had remarried in the late sixties. I knew my biological grandpa but he was never like my real grandpa. He never made time for me, took me fishing or was a positive male role model. I never loved him as fiercely. I always wondered why, through this whole process of using donor eggs, why losing my biological connection never really bothered me. I had seen many couples struggle with it and could understand that struggle. I would like to think that it is because of my grandpa. Somewhere deep inside my being, I knew that biology didn’t matter to me because I loved my grandpa so deeply and completely. We were connected to each other, we didn’t need to share genes. We were bonded. He taught me more than he will ever know and more than I even realize.
I will miss you grandpa Hank and I will always be your Jenny.