When Evo and I began talking about this crazy idea to travel for the year, we went through a series of "what if?" type questions in an attempt to plan for for the multitude of crisis large and small that we knew would come up while we were away. As impulsive as our actions probably looked from the outside, we didn't jump into it lightly.
I'm actually a fairly private person. I know it seems strange since I post online all the time, but I rarely talk about the less-than-happy stuff that happens in my life. Prior to this trip, I'd not shared the health issues that I've had to deal with as a mid-40s woman. I don't scramble to write a post when Evo and I are fighting (yes, it does happen) or when extended-family drama reaches a boiling point. As a rule; I just don't do it.
But we know that the inner details of our lives while we're on this trip is part of what you've signed up for. That's why you got to hear about my recent asthma/allergy issues, which came as a surprise to many of you.
This post is about something bigger. And infinitely harder to write about.
Evo and I were both born of very young parents. As it so happens, our parents were also had very young parents. (We waited until 23 to have NJ, which was an age compared to prior generations. I still have a photo of five generations of my family.) Over the years, we'd both lost grandparents; both of Evo's paternal grandparents, my maternal grandmother, and my paternal grandfather. We started 2014 with a total of four remaining, but my paternal grandmother, who meant the world to me, passed away over the summer. With that loss fresh on both of our minds, we had to agree on a course of action should something happen to one or all of the remaining three.
Rushing back and helping was likely off the table. When you're on a different continent, "rushing back" isn't really an option. We also realized that, as much as we'd want to be there, there was nothing we could really do for them. Plus, our parents, their siblings, or our siblings were much closer than we would be for the duration of our trip. So we made the decision to spend some quality time with each of our grandparents before we left the states. For Evo's, we got lucky on timing and were there for the birth of our new nephew as a bonus! We then we flew to the east coast to spend time with my PaPa before striking out for Europe.
My grandfather was not well, but we had a good visit regardless. He was really excited for our adventure! Of the three, he had traveled the most extensively and was thrilled we would soon be seeing some of the same sights he had in his younger days. A passing of the torch, if you will.
A week into our journey, I found out that he had had a stroke. Perhaps many. He was having trouble speaking, didn't remember people, and couldn't even recognize his sweet little dog, Sugar, who was his constant companion. Hearing this made it very hard to be so far away. I felt powerless. But really, what was I to do? I stayed in near-constant contact with my mother to get updates. Over the week, he seemed to make some improvements, and I was able to briefly talk with him one morning. He seemed to know not only who I was, but he spoke of our recent visit. Over the next few weeks as we were bouncing from France to Denmark, my family began making plans to move him to an assisted living facility, as his medical state was tenuous, and he'd need constant supervision.
Last night, right before bed, I got the news that he passed away.
The news crushed my heart. But he wouldn't have wanted to linger in his current condition. He wouldn't have wanted his family to watch him get worse.
My grandfather was always there for his family. He was a strong, proud man. He was quite a character and always had a story to tell, skills he put to use for years on the stage and in front of the camera.
PaPa, you will be greatly missed ... and I love you!