Tuesday, June 8, 2010


May 23rd at 9 p.m. my sweet little grandpa's 30 year battle with Parkinson's ended. I was trying to get out to California during those last days to say good-bye , but he went quickly and we ended up going for a funeral instead. I was sad that I never knew the vibrant, healthy, friendly, selfless Gramps that all the others remembered. I was sad he had a great-granddaughter that he never met. Sad that the last time I saw him was a year and a half ago and I'm not even sure if he knew we were there because he couldn't talk or open his eyes. Everyone was relieved that his suffering was over, but for me it was sad thinking that a tiny box of ashes was all that was left, on this earth, at least.

But the thoughts keeping me awake since 4 this morning have also reminded me that he is more than a few ashes. Grandma and Gramps have 6 children (5 living), 11 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. He had numberless friends. And left us all with fond memories.

My Mother With Her Mother And Siblings
(Thanks to my brother-in-law for getting everyone to smile by coming up in a Mets shirt in front of a bunch of Dodger fans)

I was lucky enough to stay with my grandparents 7 years ago, the long summer after my sophomore year. I meant to go to help out, although I only ended up doing easy things, like help to roll him over in bed, help get him into a wheel chair, answer his calls, or feed him meals. There was a lot of hope that summer.

Insisting to Stand For Picture With Grandma

He'd had a new type of brain surgery that was getting others out of wheel chairs and walking. Three kinds of therapists were coming to the house and after they left I would work with him on the stretching and exercises they gave him for homework. But he didn't improve the way we wished.

Happy Newlyweds In The 50's
(I have to resort to trickery to get a natural picture of grandma, usually zooming out to get her in a shot she doesn't think she's in. )

Taking care of someone who can't do anything for themselves is very humbling, for both of you. Some days were better than others, but I could still see glimpses of the old Gramps I never really knew. He loved and requested simple things. Extra dessert, to hold grandma's hand, refried beans, to read him the newspaper, put Judge Judy on the TV at 3.

I have more faint memories from long ago, like walking around the block with him and being sent into neighbors' back yards to pick avocados and citrus fruits he was sure they wouldn't mind sharing, even if they weren't home. Or going to the store and waiting while he complimented a lady on her dress or caught up with a friend, which were many since the sociable man was born and raised in the same town.

I love you and miss you Gramps and am glad your in a place without suffering, emotional or physical. In the mean time, I will remember you warmly when I look down at the hands I inherited from you.


Blackham Fam said...

I remember meeting him. I was thinking about that summer we spent together. I'm really sorry that he's gone.

cirila said...

Very nice tribute. Hope you are able to get some sleep now.

Anonymous said...

Lena, Thank you for the kind words for Grandpa. I, too, wish you could of known him before he became ill. PS - I am glad you have his hands just like I do.

Grandma Corrales said...

We were so sorry to hear of your loss. What a beautiful tribute you have paid him here. Memories and the promise of the eternities are huge blessings in times like these.