Barefoot by the Sea: Saying Goodbye

Monday, February 20, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Thursday morning started off like any normal day, the girls had their breakfast, Riley was off to school and Sydney and I got right down to reading and crafts.  The sun was out, it was going to be a great day.  Then, the phone rang...it was my mother.  As a nanny, she doesn't often call but since she has had a few car issues recently, I didn't think too much of it and then, she said it, "Granddad died this morning."  
Silence.  Complete and utter disbelief.  This is the man who took me swimming for countless hours while all the other adults stood around chatting, wiped my tears away when I fell off the tire swing, took me to Cape Cod for the first time, held my hand and supported me through my entire life.  He told me family stories of how he met my grandmother and danced with me at my wedding.  Strong, sweet and now gone.  


In 2004, I sat down with my Grandfather and asked him a series of questions about his life.  He was candid and open about the answers.  I had heard the family stories but not his fascinating tales of growing up.  Although we didn't get through all of his story, I did learn a great deal that I hadn't previously known.  Here is an excerpt from our conversation:


"We as a family lived in most difficult times. The Pond family moved from Pennsylvania in about 1902. In those days there were no autos, trucks or buses. Trains both passenger & freight, were the only real transportation across the United States. Towns in the Western United States were small and didn't have much to offer.

I was born on September 1, 1916 and lived in the state of Washington. My parents had come to Washington from Pennsylvania in 1902. They lived in the forest and my Dad and his brother owned a timber-cutting site and cut trees into logs to send them to a sawmill.

We lived in a log cabin. My brothers, Preston and Frances and my sister Myrtle and I had space for beds and that’s about all. My brother, Frances died of influenza in 1918 which was the worst flu year on record, with thousands of people across the country dying from it. Our Mother cooked in the lumber camp for the log cutters.

Our nearest neighbors were 3-5 miles down the road. There was a one-room log cabin schoolhouse about a mile from my home.

As soon as I was able to get around, Mama would let me stay with her in the kitchen while she cooked. I can’t remember seeing Mama without an apron.

We had no toys or anything to play with. As we grew older, we made fishing poles out of willow sticks and used white grocery string with a bent pin for a hook. Sometimes, Mama would let us use blueing to color the string. Blueing was a product that was added to water that was used to wash clothes in and tended to cause white things to stay white. Anyway, we caught lots of fish with our homemade equipment."

Like so many elderly people, his story is fascinating to me.  He was the father of 12 children (6 boys, 6 girls), an active member of his community in Massachusetts and devoted husband.  My grandmother died in 2000 but he spoke of her lovingly every time we talked together.  He knew he would see her again.  An active member of his church, he volunteered as an usher on Saturday and Sunday services until the age of 93.  He loved to garden and proudly displayed his beautiful flowers and would often give me tips   This past Summer, we had a big party for Granddad.  My uncle Marty, back from his third mission in Afghanistan surprised him and he said, "this is one of the best days of my life." I thought that was miraculous, to live a full 96 years and still get wonderful moments like that to take you by surprise.   

This week we will say our final goodbye to Grandad.  I will remember him with all the love I have and hope to live a full life, anticipating surprises around every corner.  You will be missed.  

5 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss Jess. It is always hard to say goodbye.

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  2. Such a great story. Sorry for your loss.

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  3. So so sorry Jessica. Thinking of you this week, friend. xoxo

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  4. I'm so sorry for your loss dear friend. My thoughts are with you. Take care.

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  5. Jess, I was shocked to read this post. I know how much you loved your Granddad and I am so sorry to hear of his passing. Thinking of you and praying for you and your Mom. Talk to you soon.

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