A Sad Day
Yesterday we lost my grandfather. He was 85 and had been battling lung cancer since last August. It wasn’t a surprise, we had all been expecting this loss for some time but it still hits as hard as a brick wall now that it’s happened. He put up a good fight, going through difficult chemo treatments in an effort to lengthen his life just a little bit longer. And earlier this spring, he made it to his 85th birthday — a milestone he wanted to reach desperately. When he passed, he held the distinction of living the longest life out of any other man in our family. Both his father and grandfather had died early from heart attacks, but my grandfather surpassed them and all his other relatives in age — even surviving a few heart attacks and several surgeries himself.
His health was never 100% but we always assumed it would be his heart that hurt him most in the end. Instead it was cigarettes. It breaks my heart to think that his death could have been avoidable if, years and years ago, he’d abstained from the habit of smoking that he — like so many others, including his wife — took up as a career nurse in the army. He quit years ago, well before my grandmother was diagnosed of the lung cancer that eventually took her life as well. Eleven years ago, on the other side of my family, I also lost my beloved grandfather to emphysema. These three great losses hurt, but even moreso because they are all due to smoking and — in my mind, at least — were preventable.
I’m proud that I’ve never once in my life picked up a cigarette. How could I, having seen firsthand the effects on one’s health and the loved ones surrounding that person in the end?
It’s hard to accept that he’s gone now, even as much as I’d prepared myself for this inevitable day. I have many memories of him to keep with me, of his corny jokes, old war stories, and his beautiful blue eyes. I will never forget the last time I saw him, and of the beautiful day we spent together. When I left him that day, I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see him. But I still hugged him long and hard, and told him I loved him, and we both had tears in our eyes. I’m at peace with that goodbye, and I will always hold it in my heart as a happy moment.
I’m content knowing he went peacefully in his sleep, after so many months of pain and discomfort. I know how much he loved me, and his entire family including his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I hope he has found peace and is finally together with my nana.
I will always miss you and always love you, Nonno.