Posted by: NotAScientist | August 10, 2008

Goodbye Grandpa

Just as a quick warning, this post will be somewhat rambling. Take it for whatever it’s worth.

My grandfather passed away about a month ago.

“Passed away” sounds so light and fluffy.

He died.

I haven’t mentioned it, here or on my youtube channel, since it happened. And I’m not completely sure why. Maybe I wanted to keep my blogging and vlogging separate from my personal life.

There goes that plan, eh?

I’m mildly surprised that I’m not feeling as sad as I think I should. But when I think that, I start wondering why there’s a level of sadness that I ‘should’ be feeling. Is it just me, or am I responding to a societal norm that informs us exactly how melancholy we must be in response to a given death in the family. And before you know it, I’m thinking all about me and my feelings and not about my grandfather.

But that makes sense to me. At least since my de-conversion from faith it does.

John Morse is gone. Everything he was as a person: his personality, his wit, his thoughs, his memories, his subconscious, are gone. His physical remains are burried underground, but anything that was really ‘him’ is gone for good. And so all I have left of him are my memories, the memories of my family, and a Boy Scout knife that used to be his. For me, that will have to be enough.

I think part of the reason that I’m not as sad as I might be is the fact that my grandfather was in a ‘home’ (I don’t know the actual term) for the past 7 years. He spent that time slowly deteriorating, first mentally and then physically. He had to deal with losing firm control of his limbs and suffered auditory hallucinations and dementia.

That was sad.

But now it’s over. He’s not suffering any more. He’s not anything any more, but to paraphrase a greater writer than I, we weren’t ‘anything’ for billions of years before we were born and it doesn’t seem to have bothered us much.

In a way, he was dying for those 7 years. And I have no idea how I would have been able to understand that as a believer. It would drive me insane to think that there was a benevolent omnipotent being that loved us, but refused to either cure my grandfather of his maladies or let him die.

As an atheist, I understand that there was no being ‘allowing’ this to happen. John Morse didn’t suffer because he was a bad person, because he committed some sort of sin or was paying for the sins of his ancestors or family. He suffered due to the effects of chance and genetics. That’s not a happy scenario, but I find it more comforting than the alternative.

Due to work and travel schedules I was unable to make it to the funeral. So when I visited the family last week, my father took me to the graveyard to visit his site.

We couldn’t find it.

Feeling vaguely like we had misplaced a parking spot at the mall, we traded morbid jokes back and forth.

My Father: He’s got to be laying around here somewhere…

Me: We’ll find him. It’s not like he’s going anywhere.

I think that’s what I want to remember about my grandfather. Certainly the memories from childhood are there, I plan on always keeping the scout knife and I do feel sad that I’ll never get to see or speak with him again.

But the fact that, even though he’s gone, he can still make me and my dad laugh…that’s priceless.


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