I have no regrets for the last six years, said Grammy.
This morning I spent time with my former mother-in-law aka Grammy, my former husband, and our two young adult children. Completing the family circle around Grammy’s dining room table was my husband of 3 years, my daughter’s boyfriend of 5 months, and her slightly rambunctious boxer mix of 2 years.
It has only just become been Grammy’s dining room table because Poppy, her husband of 58 years, died 5 days ago. In talking about that Grammy made her declaration of no regrets for having exhaustively devoted herself 24/7/365 to Poppy’s fight to remain alive.
Like a phoenix rising, coming back numerous times from critical illness, falls, and hospitalizations, his seemingly sudden death was in some ways painstakingly slow.
Poppy, aka Poppy Gadget, was not just a technology and tool aficionado. He was also a builder of Legos, flipper of pancakes, fixer of make-your-own pizzas and sundaes, tolerant recipient of thread spools between eyeglasses and eyes among other things to fancy up his looks…all for the love of his grandchildren.
That phrase had popped out at me in a WSJ obit I had read before going to Grammy’s, reminding me immediately of Poppy. It was one of his standard replies for many things.
Five days before Poppy died, he enjoyed a wonderful family Thanksgiving meal around that same dining room table we were at. Months earlier I had asked the kids to make their Thanksgiving plans around what would work best for Grammy and Poppy, and let me know. Little did we all know the memories that Thanksgiving 2018 would hold, as it was the last day he would spend at home and the last time his family would see him fully alive.
Its funny how easy it became to not be with the kids on exact holiday days, knowing it might be the last they’d be able to spend with their grandparents. This was not because my kids or anyone from that side said so, as much as what I felt. All of which was a radical departure from the many years past that I had wallowed in depression, resenting my ex and his parents, sometimes volunteering to work, sometimes volunteering to deliver Thanksgiving meals, and sometimes making wild bordering on crazy choices to escape the pain of holidays without my children.
It has been a long and meandering road to this morning’s healing gathering at Grammy and Poppy’s house. Its purpose on the surface was to bring my daughter’s dog back to her after dog-sitting him during the funeral services. On a deeper level, it was really a chance for us to come together as the fractured family we are and get a little closer to healing the brokenness of divorce, and the sadness of death. We shared laughter and reminiscences, hugs, and I believe, love.
Poppy’s funeral took place in the same church where his son and I began a 10 year marriage that ended 16 years ago. I can still remember the first dinner around Grammy and Poppy’s dining room table as their son’s new girlfriend 28 years ago.
No regrets. You bet.