The death of the man who raised him left Kimanzi Constable reeling with anger, regret, and yes, gratitude.
Today, (Tuesday December 9th 2014) my grandfather died, he was 88-years old.
I knew it was coming; yet when I heard the news it felt like someone punched me in the stomach. Friends and family have sent well wishes, but I don’t know how to respond. I just want to hide and block out the world for a week. I know that’s not reality.
He battled so much to stay alive this year. Earlier in the year, he fell and hit his head, which lead to a brain bleed and surgery. The doctors didn’t think he would make it.
He pulled through, but we were told he would not have all of his brain function. It took months, but he did recover and remember us. We enjoyed several months of catching up and celebrating heart-warming memories.
The last conversation we had, (two weeks ago) I told him how much of an impact he had on my life. I told him we loved it when my mother would let us have sleepovers at his house. I told him thank you for putting up with two (my brother and I) crazy kids tearing up his house.
He laughed and said, “You’re welcome.”
The very last interaction was through an open letter that I wrote to him. Thank you to The Good Men Project for allowing me to post it. My aunt printed out the letter and brought it to the hospital. After reading it to my grandfather, he said, “Very touching,” held the letter close to his heart and kept saying, “Wow.”
Even though everything inside of me feels like it’s in fire, I get the strength to wipe away the tears when I think about that moment. I’m so grateful he died knowing what he meant to my brother and I. It helps the pain knowing that he understood how grateful my brother and I are that he stepped up when my father (his son) wasn’t around.
The hardest part of all of this is the distance. In April, we moved from Wisconsin to Maui, Hawaii. We saw him before we left, but all of our interactions these last few months have been on the phone.
It sucks. Hawaii is our dream, but there’s nothing like seeing, hugging and feeling someone you love.
I’m mad about so many things.
I knew he was going to die. I know that everyone dies, that’s life. But I’m still pissed he’s gone.
I’m pissed that even though we have done well financially, a trip back to Wisconsin for his funeral would take some shifting money around in our budget. It costs an arm and leg to live here, and we have to keep a large emergency fund just in case. I’m pissed that we are not to the point of not having to worry about money.
I’m pissed that I didn’t open up more. We had a great relationship, but most of it was non-verbal. We knew how we felt, but there were too many things that I should have said out loud. Maybe it was fear or feeling weak or some stupid reason in my head. I should have ignored that silliness and spoke up. It’s too late now.
I’m pissed that I didn’t learn more about him. Whenever we talked, he wanted to know what I was up to and how my kids were doing. He let me talk for hours. I should have shut up a few more times and listened to him. I should have let him tell stories of growing up after the Great Depression and serving in World War II.
More than anything, I’m pissed about the little things I should have done. I should have called him everyday instead of making excuses and not calling. I should have sent more pictures and stopped trying to pretend I was a busy hotshot who didn’t have time. I cringe when I think of all the wasted time on stupid stuff.
I should have asked him more about my father and his life (he died in 2012). I shouldn’t have been afraid to have the difficult discussions.
I am grateful
Despite the things I wish I would have done, I’m grateful for all the good times we had together. I’m grateful for the man who molded me into who I am today. He may not be here on this earth, but his spirit, love and legacy live on.
I’m grateful for the love of words he instilled in me. I’m grateful that he put me on the path to my dream early on. I’m thankful for the family he left behind and how we can take solace in each other.
Don’t live with regret
The one thing that I want you to take away from my mistakes is that life is short. I know what you’re thinking, “Duh!” We know this in our head, but we don’t live life this way. I made a vow to my father in 2012 that I wouldn’t live life with regrets, yet too often I do.
Is it possible to live every single minute of your life without regret? I honestly don’t know. I’m sure there are some people that do.
What I do know is we live to many days filled with regret. It can be little things like what we eat or big things like our work or relationships. If you’re living days, weeks or years with regret, I pray this post is your wake up call.
We only get one life to live and I intend to make it count. I hope you’ll join me. Cherish those you love. Tell them everyday. Leave nothing unspoken.
Photo is author’s own