I was real upset when I was writing my last journal, which I why I stopped midway through what I wanted to write. I'm a bit better now, but what I've gone through the last few weeks isn't something that just goes away I suppose?
When I went to see my grandparents the day after mom and I went back to Minnesota the cold hard reality of my grandfather's condition just hit me as had as the cold winter wind.
He had always been a healthy and active guy, and now he was this emaciated person who bore little resemblance to the man who used to take me fishing and play catch for hours on end.
I knew his time with us was going to be short.
He greeted mom and I with a pained smile and a weak hug, and after being with him for a few minutes he asked if he could talk with mom in private. I hate to say this but I was glad to be away from him for a while, just to not have to hold back my tears any longer.
Grandma led me to the kitchen and made a roast beef and Swiss sandwich for me (my favorite since I was a little boy) and when she sat the plate on the table I looked up at her. We hugged and cried, silently so grandpa and mom couldn't hear us. We didn't say anything and really, there were no words needed.
After a long time my mom came down and joined us in our silent grief, and then she told me that grandpa wanted to talk to me. She wiped my tears from my eyes and told me to be strong. Right then I was a million miles away from being strong.
I joined grandpa on his bed and we talked and talked, really about nothing. Then he asked me to get a photo album off the bookcase, and the real conversation began.
"So I hear you're a drummer?" he asked me and I told him I was. He opened the album and the first picture was him at about twelve behind a small drum kit, a serious look on his face. The were more pictures of him over time, getting older and his kit eventually evolving into a larger one.
Then there was one last picture with "Last Gig" written on it. I had to ask what that meant.
"Your mother was about to be born Riley, and it was time to put away childish dreams and become a man. I sold that kit to pay the hospital bill. I wanted to be the next Keith Moon and John Bonham but life happened to get in the way"
I didn't know what to say to that?
Then things got weird.
"Riley", he said with his finger pointing straight at my jeans zipper, "that will get you into nothing but trouble, and I hope you know that!"
I so wanted to run from the room but couldn't. I didn't want him to be alone.
His tone changed, and he pulled me close to him.
"Riley, don't let life...or a girl...or the bottle...or anything get into the way of your dreams. And don't let you get in the way either, if you know what I mean? Make you dreams happen and all the other baggage will fall onto you."
"I won't...I promise."
He smiled at me and told me he was tired and needed a nap. I kissed his forehead, and hugged him as gently and I could and told him I love him.
"Not as much as I love you" he mumbled back.
I went back into the kitchen and hugged mom and grandma again and this time the tears were harder and almost violent.
We stayed for dinner, and before we left I went to see grandpa again. I opened the door but he was sound asleep, and behind me grandma hugged me. He's at peace honey, he so wanted to see you again.
That night mom drove me to see some of my old friends, and it was funny how everyone looked older and had gotten bigger, except for me.
The next morning my mom woke me up with tears in her eyes. She didn't have to tell me.
He was gone.
We later went over to my grandma's, and met the many people who came to express their sorrow, but my grandma kept saying one thing: He's at peace now, and no longer suffering.
Grandpa asked to be cremated, and the next day we had a memorial service in the church I had gone to as well. Grandma asked me to carry his urn in and place it on the flower covered table, and I did it without any hesitation.
He had written his own eulogy, and an old friend of his read it. It started about his life, his career and family. Then, much like our last conversation, he talked about following your dreams and making them happen no matter what.
After the service, everyone gathered into lines and gave grandma, my mom and I handshakes and hugs, along with envelopes containing cards. Some bent down to kiss his urn, which I thought was sweet.
At my grandma's house she handed me a stack of cards that were addressed to me and told me that she expected me to write prompt thank you notes, and I promised I would.
Later that night a lawyer, who had been a childhood friend of my grandpa's came by to give his condolances, and to also read my grandpa's will. He left instructions to my grandma to sell the house and move somewhere warm, which she has been planning on doing for years.
My mom was left some money and some possessions, and then it came my turn. I basically will have a solid college fund.
I thought they were done, but the the lawyer said there was one last thing. It was a card with a simple message:
"Riley, if you're reading this I've gone on to me next stop in life. Use this to follow your dreams. Love, Grandpa."
Inside was a prepaid credit card with a rather large amount on it.
I started crying and just couldn't stop. I think it was okay to do that.
On the flight home mom and I didn't say much, and in front of us were a family that was coughing and sneezing. The next day we were both sick, and missed several days of school/work. When I finally went back to school I found out my revised science project had be given a A and entered into the school's science fair.
My mom called the whole thing a load of pig feces, but I'm sure she had another word in mind.