When the doctor carried me out of the delivery room he placed me in my grandfather’s arms. Not my father’s arms – he wasn’t there. Nor was he ever there that I remember. I think my Mom told me he saw me once or twice, but he wasn’t interested in being a father, nor was he interested in being a husband, so they signed the papers and went separate ways. My mother was left with my brother, and me, and nothing else. He walked away and pretty much forgot all about us, as far as I can tell.
So my grandfather became the central male figure in my life, until my mother remarried when I was 9. I adored him. The man my mother married eventually adopted my brother and me, and he is my father in every way, and I love him. But, my grandfather was the daddy of my little girl’s heart. That’s something that can not replaced or changed.
I could tell you so many wonderful stories about him, but it would take me another 4000 posts. Instead I’ll just share with you one brief look at the type of man he was.
My parents moved to New Orleans when I was a senior in high school. I stayed behind, for a while at least, living with my grandparents. Every morning, when I woke up and got ready for school, breakfast was waiting for me. Not a bowl of cereal. Toast, eggs, bacon. Orange juice, because I didn’t like milk.
And the fire. There would be a fire in the fire place. I would eat my breakfast in front of that crackling fire, warm and comfortable, and that’s how I started my day. It wasn’t until I was older that I began to appreciate what an effort it was for him. Every night he prepared the fireplace with the kindling and logs so he could light it when he woke up. Every morning he awoke early, to cook me a hot meal, so that when I finally dragged myself out of bed it was all waiting for me.
When you’re 17 you think the world revolves around you. And while I’m certain I hollered out the occasional “Thanks for breakfast Grandaddy!” I know I never really thanked him from my heart. Just one in a long line of regrets.
In February of 2001 two momentous things happened. I had a hysterectomy in an attempt to cure my endometriosis, and I joined hatrack, after lurking for more than a year.
What I could not and did not expect, was that the hysterectomy would fix one problem and bring another. A lot of women have problems with depression accompanying surgical menopause, and I was one of them. I fought the mood swings, the crying spells, and the frustration and bouts of anger.
When I thought I might have a handle on it, and was perhaps going to be able to claw my way out of the depression I got a phone call from my mother telling me to come to the hospital, my grandfather had a heart attack.
I remember driving to the hospital by myself – it was late and Wes stayed home with the kids. My mind was reeling, and I distinctly remember looking at my hands and noticing that the knuckles were white where I gripped the steering wheel. I remember thinking how odd it was – I mean, I’d heard and even used the term “white-knuckled” but this was the first time I’d ever truly seen it.
We don’t have time for me to describe that night in detail. Or the weeks that followed. Enough to say it was the worst period of time in my life. We had hope, then no hope, then hope again, and then he was just gone. It was the day before my twins’ first birthday.
The depression I thought I was defeating claimed me. I was in a cave, and there was no light to help me find my way. I had never felt such emptiness. It threatened to consume me.
The worst point was when the phone rang one day and I answered it. The voice on the other side said “Hey!” in a tone and voice that sounded so very familiar. I started to answer him, to tell him about my day. And then I remembered it wasn’t him, couldn’t be him. But for that moment, that heartbeat – I believed. And the next heartbeat brought the crushing loss back down on top of me.
I couldn’t stand, I fell to the ground and curled into a ball on the carpet. I thought I’d die. No one could hurt that badly, and survive.
I did survive. I did find my way out of the cave. It took a loving doctor, who cared enough to ask the right questions, and a supportive family. I now feel good, and when I remember my grandfather now and cry, they are tears of remembrance, not those of desperate pain.
And through it all, my friends, I came here. Some of you knew what I was going through. Mackillian helped me through it, she the brave soul that was always a patient listener. Olivet helped tremendously just by being my friend. A true, real friend that I treasure. I'm so glad I met you, Olivia!
But all of you helped. You gave me a safe place to come and be a part of something. You let me share my thoughts, my opinions, my silly inane goofiness at times. You gave me a connection that I needed, at a time when I needed it most.
You’ll never know how much it meant to sign on and be able to talk to people who actually seemed to care about what I had to say. There will be some of you that think I’m attaching way too much importance to “just an internet forum.” But you have to know that it is more than that.
This is a place where people connect. Where they talk, where they ask each other for advice, where they play games, where they argue, and where they support and uplift each other. I needed to belong to a community, and this one was here for me.
I love you all. I love this place. I thank Uncle Orson from the bottom of my heart for making this place available for us. Thanks for letting me share this.
I dont care what people think, I am bawling and I dont really know what to think. That really just grabbed my heart and played with my emotions. This was truly beautiful, Belle and I thank you for sharing.
I thank you for sharing too. It's not long when it is so interesting. I see an example of your fantastic writing skills, and I know it is not fiction. You are a very cool person. Great post!
Posts: 1056 | Registered: Mar 2002
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That was and is amazing. Thank you for sharing. (I am starting to sound like a broken record here....hahaha.) I am sorry about your grandfather. You definitely showed us he was an incredible man. It's the little things like breakfast in the morning and staying that really count. That and friends can help you dig yourself out of most anything. You are lucky to have them as much as they are lucky to have you.
Four thousand posts are quite achievement. Something I have little hope of reaching, but I prefer content to number. You happen to combine both equally well .
I hope you continue to post. I expect to see your 5000 someday.
Ahhh...now look what you made me do....I'm crying.
Things never seem so long when they are interesting. Your grandfather sounds like the kind we all need at least one of. Though it was obviously tough to lose him, I'm glad you had him for so long.
I come from a very close family, we uplift one another, help one another and give each other support; we care very deeply for all. Yet there was is a danger in being this close . When you lose one of the central figures of the family you are all at a loss. You are numb and can’t reach out to lift up when you are trying to just stay afloat yourself. Belle, I am so sorry that you were at such a loss. Hatrack thank you for being there for her. I wish I could have been, but I was curled up on my own floor trying to remember to breath, trying to get through each day. Wondering how people could live with this hole in their heart, because her wonderful Granddaddy was my father.
Posts: 765 | Registered: Feb 2002
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I went here in Hatrack in some kind of similar condition... My mother has just died from a carcinoma (don't talk me about cigarettes...) and I was lost without her, everybody in my family was so. I was 18 and lived with my parents for the WE, I lived alone in Lille for the week because I was (and am ) studying there. Suddently my life had changed, and my father and I were unable to discuss about anything, overwhelmed by the pain. I wouldn't say I found a family in Hatrack, I'm not that familiar with you all, but you all helped me to be alive and to communicate. It was so good to "talk" with people that "didn't know" and treated me as everybody else, instead of feeling obliged to show a sad face everytime they saw me. Now my life is entirely different, I live with a man I met a few month after my mother's death, and which have been wonderful with me. If everything goes the way I want, I should be able to work as a librarian in a year, and then have a family whith him. I think that in a certain way you helped me to build that, and to stay standing. Thank you for that.
Posts: 3524 | Registered: Oct 2001
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I'm sorry, I have been very busy lately, but why exactly are you still around? I remember a goodbye thread, and you aren't the type of person to say soemthing and come back...
Posts: 1360 | Registered: Jul 2002
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There is a grand total of exactly one person who knows everything, and she has chosen to withhold judgement. That's a good idea. Everyone, please, let it go.
Posts: 26063 | Registered: Mar 2000
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I understand why it wasn't very long, actually...Belle's mind was probably filled with anectdotes and overviews of her undoubtably excellent grampa to tell, and decided to settle for one...the very long story was surely in her mind the whole time.
Belle, I'm sorry you lost a great man and role model, and a loving parent. I haven't known or heard of many people who wind up being good parents with such bad examples as your biological father (well, actually I've heard of several here )
Happy 4000th, Belle You rock
The best part about scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast is using the bacon as a wedge in order to scoop more eggs
:::Whacks paul again::: how rude :: gives paul a dirty look.
sorry about that Belle.
your granpa sounded alot like my grandma. She had so much for people she unofficaly adopted the family she babysat for into our family. so ive ended up with dozens and dozens of adopted cousins that i grew up with. i wont compare loseing my grandma to your lose. since i was 12 at the time she passed on, i think i was a little to young to appreciate what i lost. thank you for helping me think about my grandma again, and telling us more about yourself
Belle, thank you for the glimpse into your life. Your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man, and you were blessed to have him in your life. I would envy you for it, but I also had wonderful parents who never left me wanting for love.
Don't believe for a second that he didn't know how much you loved him. And remember that although he was making those fires and breakfasts for you, he got joy out of it, too. Just by existing, you gave him joy. I know, because my mom gets the same feeling waking up before my dad to make him coffee. It isn't that he expects it, or that he doesn't know how to make it himself -- it's that she chooses to do it for him. And it sounds like that's exactly what your Grandaddy was doing for you, too.
I was still lurking much of the time when you hit those tough times (just over 100 posts in my first two years), but I'm glad Hatrackers were here for you, and I trust we can be again if and when we're needed. (And though you insulted me for it, I never had a doubt that your post would be well worth waiting for, and I was right -- so nyah!)
Bob, you made me laugh loud enough this morning that I thought I would wake Mooselet (through two closed doors). Quit it.
Belle, thank you for that. You have, once again, managed to say what other people, including myself, feel about this place, and you say it so well. I am glad you chose to remain a part of this community.
Your story made me think of my maternal grandfather, who passed away eight years ago tomorrow. He is still always with me, I know that somehow he still looks out for me the way he did when I was younger. It seems to me that we never truly lose the people we love.
I'm sorry for being late to say Happy 4000th!! I envy you though. You had the chance to actually know you're grandfather and remember things. I can't remember anything before 2nd grade and I was 3 when my mom's mom died and dad's dad died...I can't remmeber a thing..Congrats though!
Posts: 4628 | Registered: Jul 2002
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Crap, I'm crying. Getting shmoopy will set my evil studies back by at least a semester, but I guess I don't care.
Thanks for sharing yourself with all of us. I'm honored and awed to be your friend.
*Tousles Paul's hair.*
And yes, that whole recent row was regrettable, but let's try to remember that EVERYONE loses it once in a while, and that grace and forgiveness are the greatest gifts we can give to each other, and to ourselves.