Hi Granddaddy!

As I was taking this pic, I wasn’t really sure what was special about it. The clouds are cool but I’ve seen cooler. That beach chair though… Why the heck is that important?

I posted it on Instagram and one of the beach urchins almost immediately commented, “Hi Granddaddy!” Oh, THAT’S why I posted that. An empty chair. One like the ones my dad always sat in on the beach. Along with everybody else. To be technically correct, this particular beach chair belongs to My Dear Uncle Harry and his daughter (my cousin the Grand Poohbah) had been recently sitting in it talking to me (at a distance). (We also swam together and it was LOVELY.)

But that kind of hit home. After my brother and dad died, it was a tradition for a few years to set up two of these chairs at the beginning of the season and keep them there until the end. It was a symbol but not a sacred symbol. I mean it was perfectly okay for others to use those chairs whenever. But they were sentinels in a way, watching over the moominbeach when the rest of us were not there. We have lost a significant number of other relatives since then and we certainly haven’t continued or expanded this tradition. I am not crazy enough to drag out a bunch of beach chairs and set them up empty for each dead relative. There are other ways to honor them and most of those ways (in this family) involve quietly sharing stories about them. And gnoffing like crazy because this family has so much fun! Even when we are remembering those who have gone beyond.

So two stories involving the beach urchin who recognized her granddaddy in this pic. First, there was a terlet training summer when every time the beach urchin needed to use the loo she was told “Granddaddy is in the bathroom.” And then… One morning, the beach urchin approached the bathroom and NO ONE was in there. What did she say? “Granddaddy is NOT in the bathroom!”

The second story was a few years later. The beach urchin went out the front door to head down to the beach. And immediately BANGED back in! “Mom, someone has droven in!” I took a peek out the picture window and saw that my parents had just “droven” in and my dad was getting out of the car. I said, “Just take a look at who has droven in.” After taking a look, she said (with much relief), “Oh, it’s just a Great Big Mouse.”

“Granddaddy” (my dad) WAS a Great Big Mouse and greatly loved his granddaughters. My half of his granddaughters were in college when he died. They spent part of their spring break that year traveling with me to the yooperland to see him when he was at the end. While they were there, The Comm and I made the decision to transition him to palliative care. Just before we were leaving pretty much for the last time, he said something to his granddaughters. We couldn’t understand his words but a nurse who was in his room at that moment was able to translate. He said, “I LOVE YOU!”

One Response to “Hi Granddaddy!”

  1. Margaret Says:

    What a wonderful story about the chairs and about your dad! On my late husband’s 60th birthday, some friends and I went over to Anderson Island where we had property and camped. We went to the restaurant where we frequently had dinner, and ordered a Bud Light to put at an empty chair at the table. Patt and I did NOT share the same taste in beer!

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